Petr Lom: Back to the Square

Of course the director goes back to the Tahrir Square in Cairo, the symbolic location for the Egyptian revolution but one of the many qualities of this new documentary by world travelling Petr Lom – a director who in his approach is an excellent example of how questioning journalism and observing documentary can be beautifully combined – is that he goes to the countryside, to the places that we did not see in the news reports or in the many films that have been released about Tahrir Square and what happened during the dramatic days in early 2011.

Lom gives the viewer ”five stories from the Egyptian revolution”, a revolution that did not do good for everybody, not at all, on the contrary, the film says by presenting to the audience interesting characters, who do not hesitate to speak out their frustration and anger. Not only the boy on the picture whose family almost lost their business fundament as pyramid tourist guides when their horses were kind of confiscated but also the minibus driver and the young woman, whose husband is in prison without court case – it is a film about corruption in the police and in the army, not to talk about human rights being neglected.

Two stories stand out in the film that of course, having chosen to focus on five stories, in some cases leave the characters at a moment where you would have loved to stay. One is the terrible case of a strong young woman, accused of having an affair with a man, being forced to take a virgin test, undergo torture, her family going against her, as well as the village security officer, who enters the room while filming is going on, asking all kind of questions and stating the the film crew ”could be Israelis”! At the end of that chapter she is in the car of the film crew away from provincialism. The other is the touching and painful story about a young man, whose brother is sentenced to 3 years of prison because of blogging words that the army did not improve of. The brother is on hunger strike, a later text declares that he is now released.

You might argue that it is too much for one film, and that the final film sometimes seems to get out of balance, but this is the place where it can only be repeated that Contents is King. 

Norway,Piraya Films, 2012, 83 mins.

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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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