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Film: The Square

Documentary set during the protests leading to Mubarak's resignation

The Square

Directed by Jehane Noujaim

4 Stars

In early 2011 Egyptian-American film maker Jehane Noujaim recorded the mass protest that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Following a group of protesters who represented a cross-section of Egyptian society, the documentary was shot at street level and from high-rise buildings, capturing the excitement of a mass movement finding its voice and power.

Their anti-Mubarak songs and chants were intense and thrilling, the very essence of what democracy is about. After decades of oppression and frustration, a new reality seemed possible.

Among the protesters Noujaim homes in on a young working-class man who provides an exuberant guide to Tahrir Square, sharing tea and cigarettes with students and workers in an atmosphere of joy, liberation and renewal.

Another protester, part of the liberal intelligentsia suppressed by the old regime, discusses the unfolding events via video links with his father. Featured too are a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a film-maker and a singer, representatives of an older generation of dissidents.

Like a beautiful tapestry the protesters moved together and, despite their unique personalities and differences, they were united in a only goal - freedom from the regime.

The intimacy of the film-making puts the viewer in the middle of the square, making this documentary an important tool to understanding the events.

It's a fascinating work in that it is not only about the so-called Arab Spring but, more generally, about the power of people to change their destiny.

Rita Di Santo

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