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Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

Winter Of Discontent (15)

Film
by Jeff Sawtell

Directed by Ibrahim El-Batout

While waiting to watch this excellent film of the events leading up to the 2011 Egyptian revolution, BBC radio was giving voice to Foreign Secretary William Hague's confusion on current affairs.

How different, yet connected. We tend to think we're getting our news straight just as, back then, Egypt's media was presenting a partial view, calling the "terrorists" gathering in Tahrir Square to scatter.

That exhortation was being made to Farah (Farah Youssef) as she reports on Police Day before returning home to her parents. They're watching the BBC and asking: "Why isn't this on our TV?"

Meanwhile state security officer Adel (Salah Al Hanafy), who's had a torturous day trying to extract confessions, returns to the apartment he shares with his mother, also watching the Beeb.

The other player in this triangular act is Amr (Amr Waked), a revolutionary released back into society where he learns that his mother has died. Farah is the love of his life.

Director Ibrahim El-Batout uses the relationship between the three characters to illustrate that the increasing demands of a new technocratic class usher in possibilities for political change.

At each attack on the milling crowds, their numbers increase exponentially - confounding those who think you can order up revolutions. They tend to happen when the majority are angry.

With pitch-perfect performances and shot to emphasise the climate of fear, the film illuminates the courage and sacrifice of those who fought Hosni Mubarak's murderous regime and still remain steadfast.

And there are those connected by social media. No matter the jamming, there's a whole new generation getting on the electronic grapevine.

Such is their success, they even ask children what they did "during the revolution."

We watch the awaking of a nation's population which, like many others, realises it's no longer isolated. Technology provides instant access and a whole new headache for US-sponsored imperialism.

Similarly, we see how the various agencies are having to contend with a potential army of whistleblowers following in the footsteps of Manning and Snowden.

As the film closes and lists the dead and injured it reminds us that the struggle continues.

It certainly is, but not as Hague and co. would like, since the BBC is seen to be playing the same selective game, trying to appeal to allies among the new elite.

It is the strangest of synchronicities, something that will become increasingly familiar.

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