Egyptian filmmakers Tamer Ezzat, Ayten Amin and Amr Salama each direct one part of Tahrir 2011: The Good, The Bad And The Politician, a documentary about the ongoing Egyptian revolution featuring portraits of local activists, policemen and former president Hosni Mubarak.
Produced by Cairo’s Film Clinic and Paris-Cairo based Amana Creative, Pacha Pictures are handling worldwide sales on the eye-opening film which gets its North American premiere in the Mavericks Section.
How did this documentary come together?
The whole process started when our friend Ahmad Abdulla - who contributes to my section of the documentary about activists - established a media centre in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focal point during the revolution. The centre was initially a place to gather evidence of police violence towards protesters. Amr came up with the idea of doing a project like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It was obvious to us who was who but everything was so intense that it wasn’t until Mubarak stepped down later in February that we could think about shooting. I had to find characters with compelling stories and who had footage of themselves during the protests. Ayten’s film about the police was probably the most challenging. Finding someone to speak honestly and to reveal their identity was a real challenge. Amr’s section is more satirical, a sort of ‘ten steps on how to become a dictator’.
You document some very brave people.
That is what drew me to the story. Even those who weren’t politically active prior to the revolution in a matter of days became courageous warrior-activists. I asked them about their fear but they all said they didn’t feel any. The power of a people in agreement and full of adrenaline made them feel like warriors.
How important was social media in mobilising the young activists?
Mubarak’s regime managed to suppress all kinds of opposition but they weren’t technologically aware. I think the new generation worked outside the box. Blogs and Twitter have become popular in Egypt, but I don’t think all the participators used Facebook. It was a spark. It gave the young generation practise in activism, and a means of mobilisation. This revolution has been so well documented, by mobile phones, HD cameras, through all kinds of formats.
Tahrir 2011 will become the first ever documentary released in theatres in Egypt. That is very exciting. I’m also developing an Egypt-based drama called When We Are Born, which has some funding from the Doha Film Institute.