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« Complete the Sentence | Main | Secret Messages: 'Things Remember' »

NYFF: "Tahrir" You Are There

Michael C reporting from the New York Film Festival. 

In years to come there will no doubt be countless documentaries made attempting to make sense of the world changing events in the Middle East in the first half of 2011. Yet for all the context and analysis they bring to bear on the complexities of the Arab Spring I doubt any will have the immediacy of Stefano Savona’s Tahrir.

When the people of Egypy took to the streets, filling Tahrir Square, Savona grabbed his camera and marched out with them. When assembling his film he afforded himself no additional perspective. No talking heads. No title cards. No voiceover narration. If the protesters don’t have the information neither does the audience.

Without those crutches to lean on Savona goes in the opposite direction, building a picture of those days through collage - the musical repetition of chanting, the urgent, unsure spread of information, the confrontations with government enforcers. One such battle devolves horrifyingly into endless hours of rock throwing as protesters fashion makeshift helmets out of cardboard, scarves or whatever they can tie to their heads. The Egyptians we meet are a great antidote to the mainstream media’s usual representation of a sea of indistinguishable screaming foreigners. They debate the next course of action, speculate about events outside their control, and worry if it will all be worth it if in the end one tyrant is traded for another. 

Those unfamiliar with the events in Egypt last February will be more than a bit lost, even a news junkie like myself longed for a little added perspective, but with Tahrir that is beside the point. When historians set about to reconstruct what it was like to be in that square at that time, Savona's film will be essential viewing. 

Previously... A Dangerous Method, The Loneliest Planet, Melancholia

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Reader Comments (4)

I wish I hadn't missed this when I had the chance.
It sounds kinda amazing.

September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

I don't want to oversell it. It is a pretty straightforward, meat and potatoes doc. But it really captures that moment, and if the subject interests you it is inherently fascinating.

September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C

Good year for Middle Eastern cinema. Just saw A SEPARATION and wow was it potent.

September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I'm seeing that at the public screening Sunday. Can't wait.

September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C
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