Arab Spring films revive days of Egypt, Tunisia revolt

Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:53am EST
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By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI (Reuters) - The first cinematic output covering protests in Egypt and Tunisia this year recreates the euphoria of revolutions that many thought would never happen, but reveals signs of the conflicts that lay ahead over Islamist groups.

The last stage of the revolt that brought down Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and then the entire three weeks of upheaval that led to Hosni Mubarak's fall in Egypt took place before the eyes of the world with media and other documenters on the ground observing events day by day -- unlike uprisings such as Iran witnessed in 1979 or Sudan in 1985.

In "Tahrir - Liberation Square," Italian documentary maker Stefano Savona uses stunning camerawork in the midst of the lively crowds who spent three weeks in central Cairo in January and February in dreamlike sequences which capture the hypnotic chants and rhythms of Egyptian protesters.

Drummers and lead chanters who come up with an innovative array of rhymes party into the night in a record of events that emphasizes the hope of protesters whose spirits never flag and whose means of entertaining themselves is endless.

Young people also have animated discussions about the future, which given the lead Islamist groups led by the Muslim Brotherhood have established in Egypt's first free elections, seem eerily prescient.

"I don't know what to think of them (the Muslim Brotherhood) because everything we heard about them came from the state," says a young woman called Noha. "Whether the future state is religious or not doesn't matter, the important thing is that we get rid of the regime."

After news of Mubarak's resignation comes through, the camera focuses on another young Egyptian, Ahmed, who declares in English: "We will have now a civilian (secular) state, we won't have a religious state."