Tahrir: Liberation Square: Film Review

Tahrir Liberation Square Documentary Still - H 2012

Tahrir Liberation Square Documentary Still - H 2012

Cinema-verite documentary captures the chaotic early events of the Egyptian uprising.

Stefano Savona’s documentary follows the beginnings of the Egyptian uprising that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

Even with the ultimate effects of the Arab Spring still very much up in the air, Stefano Savona’s documentary about the beginnings of the Egyptian uprising that ultimately overthrew President Hosni Mubarak instantly proves itself an invaluable historical document. Shot verite-style with no narration, soundtrack or other embellishments, Tahrir: Liberation Square simply depicts the events of late January and early February 2011 with a vital immediacy.

Director Savona--whose background is in archaeology and anthropology--headed over to Cairo’s Tahrir Square with video camera in hand after watching al-Jazeera coverage of the thousands of angry demonstrators.

There, he spent more than a week capturing extensive, in-your-face footage of what was going on, including the impromptu chants that were immediately adopted by the crowd. Although the focus is on several young demonstrators, the film features impassioned comments and discussions from a wide variety of ordinary Egyptians about their methods and objectives. The editing by Penelope Bortoluzzi is particularly effective at capturing the quicksilver changes of emotion—from jubilation to anger to despair to hopefulness—that were felt by the participants.  

While a little more informative context might have been welcomed by viewers not intimately familiar with the events, there’s no denying that the film provides a vivid portrait of the often chaotic proceedings, without the skewing of perspective that often results from typical media coverage.

Opens: June 11 (Icarus Films)
Production: Picofilms, Dugong
Director/director of photography: Stefano Savona
Producers: Penelope Bortoluzzi, Marco Alessi
Editor: Penelope Bortoluzzi
No rating, 91 min.