Five years on, 16 powerful cinematic productions about the Egyptian Revolution

Published January 25th, 2016 - 06:28 GMT
Revisiting films about Egypt's 2011 revolution. (Al Ahram)
Revisiting films about Egypt's 2011 revolution. (Al Ahram)

Al-Fagoumy (2011) 
by Essam El-Shamae

The film follows the life of dissident poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, drawn from material recorded in his diary, and his long-life friend, the oud player El-Sheikh Imam, whose music together was a symbol of resistance in the 1960s and 1970s. 

18 Days (2011)

The movie comprises 10 short films by 10 Egyptian directors of different generations, all focusing on the 18 days of the 2011 Egyptian revolution: Retention by Sherif Arafa, God’s Creation by Kamla Abou Zikri, 19-19 by Marwan Hamed, When the Flood Hits You by Mohamed Ali, Curfew by Sherif El-Bendary, Revolution Cookies by Khaled Marei, Tahrir 2/2 by Mariam Abou Ouf, Window by Ahmad Abdallah, Interior/Exterior by Yousry Nasrallah and Ashraf Seberto by Ahmad Alaa.

18 Days premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. 

½ Revolution (2011)

by Karim El-Hakim and Omar Shargawi

A group of activist friends who took part in the 2011 Tahrir protests capture the rebellion spreading through the streets and the brutality of the security forces.

The film was screened in more than 40 international festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival (2012) and Dubai International Film Festival (2011), and was awarded Best Documentary Film at the Al-Jazeera Documentary Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Karama Human Rights Film Festival in Jordan.

Tahrir 11: The Good, the Bad and the Politician (2011)

by Amr Salama, Ayten AminTamer EzzatAhmad Abdalla

The documentary follows the revolution’s story on the streets months after Mubarak stepped down, with the people determined to keep the popular movement alive till their demands are met.

Tahrir: Liberation Square (2011)

by Stefano Savona

The documentary film chronicles the famous 18 days of the revolution, described on IMDb as a history of hope, fear, despair, anger, pride and elation. 

After the Battle (2012)

by Yousry Nasralla

Two different worlds meet in this feature film, which centres around a despairing character named Mahmoud, ostracised after being forced by the government to attack protesters in Tahrir Square (in an event named the Battle of the Camel that occurred on 2 February 2011), who meets Reem, a secular modern thinker who works in advertising.

The film stars Bassem Samra, Menna Shalabi, Farah, Salma Al-Deeb, Nahed Al-Sebaay and Salwa Mohamed Ali.

The film participated in the official competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. 

Uprising (2012)

by Fredrik Stanton

The film takes us behind the scenes of the Egyptian revolution, its leaders and participants, including four Nobel Peace Prize nominees. “Their success in forcing the downfall of a brutal dictatorship has changed the face of the Middle East and provided hope for millions of oppressed people across the world. Above all, it is a story of profound hope, of courage rewarded, of a people who beat back a police state and threw off the shackles of decades of degradation and oppression,” the synopsis on IMDb reads. 

Waves (or Moug, 2012)

by Ahmed Nour

A documentary combining first person narration with animation, telling a five-chapter story of the director’s generation, born at the start of Mubarak’s rule in the 1980s, in his hometown Suez that triggered the revolution.

A Deep Long Breath (or Nafas Taweel, 2012)

by Tahany Rached

A feature documentary originally planned as a three-part television series. Through the life of an Egyptian family, it covers the six months between Mubarak’s dismissal and the first parliamentary elections, prelude to the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power. 

Reporting ... A Revolution (or Al-Thawra Khabar, 2012)

by Bassam Mortada

Produced by Al-Masry Media Corporation, according to the official synopsis, “The film is a story of six young Egyptian video journalists who grew up under Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt, authoritarian regime and suddenly found themselves reporting on the story of their lifetimes. Using the footage these reporters shot to tell the story of the revolution, the reporters talk about the challenges they faced in the thick of the struggle.”

We Are Egypt: The Story Behind the Revolution (2012)

by Lillie Paquette

According to the official synopsis of the film released by the filmmaker, the film goes beyond the headlines, and becomes a story — filmed in the 14 months leading up to the revolution — that highlights the years of mounting resentment against the ruling regime.

“The film follows key opposition figures and young democracy activists as they struggle against extraordinary odds to remove an uncompromising US-backed authoritarian regime determined to stay in power.”

The Square (2013)

by Jehane Noujaim

Following Ahmed Hassan — a young, idealistic Egyptian revolutionary — as its main protagonist, The Square documents events from the first 18 days of the revolution up until Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. Among other characters in the film are activists like actor Khalid Abdalla, filmmaker Aida El-Kashef, singer/songwriter Ramy Essam, as well as Magdy Ashour, a Muslim Brotherhood member who — after the Muslim Brotherhood took power — drifts apart from the group of friends he became so fond of during the uprising.

Yasmine Zodhi wrote for Ahram Online: “The film’s portrayal of the one-and-a-half-years of military rule that followed Hosni Mubarak’s resignation leaves nothing out. It’s raw, brutal and includes depiction of the army that is far from flattering.”

The Square won several awards and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2014 Academy Awards.

Rags and Tatters (2013)

by Ahmad Abdalla

The film looks at the poor sector of Egyptian society and the 2011 revolution.

In her review for Ahram Online, Yasmine Zohdi called the film “the most unusual cinematic take on the Egyptian revolution yet — and perhaps the most honest. The film focuses on a nameless fugitive who escapes prison in the aftermath of the violent events of 28 January 2011, following him as he moves between several Cairo slums, simultaneously on a mission to deliver something of value to a friend’s family, and on a quest for a safe place to take refuge in."

The film was screened in many international festivals, including the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Areej: Scent of Revolution (2014)

by Viola Shafik

The film synopsis on IMDb reveals that the filmmaker-scholar Viola Shafik tries to process the ups and downs of Egypt’s recent upheavals via four unconnected strands. The film asks, “What if you witness a revolution, but things get worse?

El-Gezira 2 (2014)

by Sherif Arafa

The film synopsis on IMDb states that the film follows Mansour El-Hefny who returns to El-Gezira after 10 years of imprisonment to find that a lot has changed with the revolution and he must fight to get back what was once his.

In the Last Days of the City (2016)

by Tamer El-Said

A realist feature film shot in the streets of Cairo between 2008 and 2010, that serves as a document of a city on the verge of major change, right before the revolution.

The only entry by an Egyptian director to take part in the 46th annual Berlinale Forum, part of next month's 66th Berlin International Film Festival.


© Copyright Al-Ahram Publishing House

You may also like