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the Bad and the Politician Tahrir 2011: the Good Directed by Tamer Ezzat, Ayten Amin, Amr Salama

Egypt/UAE (2011) - Documentary Competition  

Readily equipped with thirty years worth of brewing anger, infectious revolutionary zeal and an unwavering determination, a stampede of Egyptian youth flocked to the streets of Cairo on January 25th, 2011 to demand an end to widespread political corruption, police brutality, unemployment and poverty. Little did they foresee the ripple effect that their Facebook-instigated demonstrations would trigger across their nation, resulting in the rapid ouster of Mubarak - a once-perceived fixture on the presidential throne.

Just as the popular chant of cooperation and solidarity “Eed wahdah (All One Hand!)” resonated across Tahrir Square – the epicentre of this year’s Egyptian revolution - three young directors embodied this principal in a collaborative effort to assemble the film Tahrir 2011 with three consecutive, yet independently made shorter films: the Good, the Bad and the Politician. Fresh from the middle of the square and awash with the exhilaration of their recent victory, Tamer Ezzat, Ayten Amin and Amr Salama set out to document their respective films from a place of personal reflection, rather than one of political or societal analysis.

Tamer Ezzat’s The Good encapsulates the eighteen turbulent days of the Egyptian revolution through the retrospective stories of a group of youth. Coupled with archival footage of the events that took place in Tahrir square, young protagonists recount the highs and lows they experienced amidst an ocean of their compatriots. This segment of the film is symbolic of the power of social unity in the face of adversity – humanity at its best in a time of need, so to speak.

The Bad, directed by Ayten Amin, juxtaposes our newfound perspectives from within the square with the perspectives of those behind the firing line – the security officers. Amin, reveals the tactical bullying and coercion inflicted upon officers by the Mubarak regime, and also daringly sheds light on the motives, experiences and ethical challenges faced by four officers through candid testimonies. This segment of the film poignantly illustrates the tendency of society to tar everyone perceived as the ‘enemy’ with the same proverbial dehumanizing brush.

Last but far from least, Amr Salama draws the film to an end on a lighter, satirical note with The Politician. This segment is a whimsical portrayal of the ousted Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year stint in power, leading us through the film with a playful guide on “how to become a dictator in ten steps”. Insightful interviews with political figures, who were either close allies of Mubarak or longstanding opponents, cleverly expose the absurdity of the man behind the once formidable reputation.

Although each chapter is different in style, mood and content, this impressive documentary ensemble is woven together seamlessly to form a poignant narrative continuum and an all-rounded account on Egypt’s 2011 revolution.

By Sara Ishaq

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