The Arab Spring reaches Venice

Photo: Indiewire

It was only a matter of time before the Egyptian revolution and the fall of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak would make it to the movie theatres. Some of the movies that were inspired by the recent events are documentaries that try to represent the story with as much ‘real’ footage as possible. Others are narrative films relating what was happening in a serious manner. Like After the Battle by Yousry Nasrallah, that unfortunately met with a rather luke-warm reception at the prestigious 2012 Cannes festival.

At the 69th edition of the Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world, a lot of films premiered that were inspired by the protests in the Arab world. This year witnessed a remarkable Arab contribution to Venice for the first time, with movies from Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Palestine, and, for the first time, Libya and even Saudi Arabia.

One of these films, that received a standing ovation lasting four minutes in Venice, is Al Sheita Elli Fat (Winter of Discontent) by Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt). It portrays the uprising in a both dark and heartening way, and carries a message of hope.

Amr is a 35-year old man who wakes up one day to find an Egypt that has completely changed. It is January 25, 2011 and Amr starts off the day with news about the protests in Cairo and marches on Tahrir Square. Something tells him these protests will lead to major political change. Farah, a 30-year old woman, is news anchor for Egyptian state television. The news that Farah presents differs greatly from the online news, or reports on international stations. She minimalizes the impact of the protests and her conscience starts to oppress her. Adel, a man in his forties, is an officer with the State Security. January 25 is a very busy day at his station with lots of protesters arrested to be interrogated. A few years ago Adel was the officer assigned to interrogate and torture Amr. Amr was blindfolded and tortured for weeks on end, to be suddenly released in the end. At the time, he was engaged to Farah. The movie tells the stories of Amr, Farah and Adel, each on their own journey during the events surrounding the Egyptian Revolution, a revolution that will change their lives, and the country, forever.

Al Sheita Elli Fat will be released on the first anniversary of the revolution.



Translated by Mark Eijkman


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