Documenting the Revolution/ 2

Two films at cph:dox dealt with the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia: Omar Shargawi and Karim El Hakim’s “1/2 Revolution” and Elyes Baccar’s “Rouge Parole”. The latter about Tunisia, the first shot in Egypt.

“1/2 Revolution” (PHOTO) was made by coincidence. You dare say! The filmmaker Omar Shargawi went to Egypt to make a feature about street children in Cairo, when he and his friends found themselves in the middle of, and taking part in what became world history: the downfall of a dictator and his suppressing regime in a huge Arab country. The quality of this film lies with the fact that the Palestinian/Danish director succeeds to personalize the story. He and his friends lived in the centre of Cairo, close to the Tahir Square. From their windows they could follow the violent clashes between police and demonstrators, from hour to hour, in a flat where there was also a baby stumbling around among grown-ups like the director himself, who have family outside he country and who of course worry about what could happen to their dear ones.

It does indeed gives the situation another perspective, and the film a tension different from the youtube uploaded clip documentations from the fights in the streets. At the same as Shargawi and his friends film in the streets. The dramatic situation is conveyed with passion and a sense of presence, and goes from documenting to documentary interpretation and personal drama. You fully understand why the group had to leave Cairo after 11 days, 7 days before Mubarak steps down.

The Tunisian film “Rouge Parole” also intends to be more than a news report on what happened in the country. And it reaches that goal in a way where you

feel both informed and emotionally involved. The director does not only stay at the Kasbah Square in the capital, he goes to other cities, first of all to Sidi Bouzid, where Bouazizi set fire to himself, an act that played a crucial role in the protests and revolution that followed. The director catches the atmosphere of anger, to say the least, against the regime of Ben Ali and the enthusiasm, when it collapses. And he puts in a lyrical frame and pauses for reflection. Yet he does also include the discussions between the revolutionaries, who do not necessarily agree on all among themselves. Of course a film that will – when time comes, with a distance – be put on a list that also includes Humphrey Jennings “Listen to Britain” from WW2, or other patriotic films like Juris Podnieks Latvian “Homeland” from the time of liberation from the Soviet empire. Am I giving the film too much credit, I don’t think so… It is very well made and quite impressive in its kaleidoskopic form.

½ Revolution (Denmark, 2011, 72 mins.). Directors: Omar Shargawi & Karim El Hakim.

Rouge Parole (Switzerland, Tunisia, 2011, 97 min.). 
Director: Elyes Baccar.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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