A critic's take on the Arab Spring documentary "We Are the Giant"

Published November 15th, 2014 - 06:10 GMT

Greg Barker’s three-pronged documentary looks at activists fighting for political rights in the wake of the Arab Spring in Libya, Syria and Bahrain.

The film makes very vivid use of footage shot by its participants and also includes interview material. In Libya, we follow the stories of a young 21-year-old American-Libyan idealist who fought against Gaddafi’s dictatorship, and of Syrian activists of a Bahraini family engaged in non-violent protest. The Bahraini section is the most surprising.

It profiles two cheerful, highly articulate sisters, Zainab and Maryam, involved in peaceful protests. The former is in exile in Denmark, the latter is constantly being arrested because of her activities in Bahrain. Their father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is languishing in prison on trumped up charges – and no-one in the West pays any attention to the abuses they’ve endured.

Structurally, the film is a  little cumbersome. The footage of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other heroes of peaceful protest is a distraction. The three main stories, though, are inspiring and shocking by turns.

By Geoffrey Macnab


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