By Punch Player Correspondent Darryl Keeton
The IMPACT Arts + Film Fund recently held a special screening of the documentary film, â€œ1/2 Revolutionâ€ at E-Street Cinema in Washington. The documentary focuses on a group of friends living in Cairo during the initial 11 days of the Arab Spring. The film was shot literally on the run, at ground level, using hand-held cameras and mobile devices and captures the emotion and intensity of a movement that changed the historical landscape both culturally and politically in the Arab world.
In 1971, Gil Scott-Heron recorded a song entitled, â€œThe Revolution Will Not Be Televisedâ€ which was a popular refrain during the protest movements of the 1960â€™s. Apparently, the creators of theâ€œ1/2 Revolutionâ€ didnâ€™t take to the message in the song when they set about filming the chaotic days of the Egyptian Revolution. The initial herky-jerkey movement at the onset of the film is a bit disconcerting at first (imagine filming a roller coaster ride) but the pace settles and allows you to take in the full environment of what is taking place.
These are moments captured by Egyptian-Danish filmmaker, Omar Shargawi and Egyptian-Swedish filmmaker, Karim El Hakim as they position themselves among the protesters and frantic crowds in and around Tahrir Square in the late days of January 2011.
It is a bit surreal to witness these close-up accounts of protesters being fired upon, tear gas canisters thrust into crowds and demonstrators fighting tanks with rocks and bricks all in the name of a better way of life. As this society was unraveling before me on screen, I tried to remember what I was doing during the period that this was all taking place. Putting together travel plans? Shopping? I immediate felt a sense of gratitude for my circumstances as an on-screen explosion brought me back to the present.
The real time footage of the demonstrations and the surrounding violence serve as the core appeal of the documentary. Not for the sensational aspect, but truly for its journalistic and historical significance. These were not actors. These were real people suffering under real circumstances that were making a unified decision to change their fate. Impact their lives. Thatâ€™s the story in this film. Itâ€™s what the broader media was unable to fully convey and what this film does.
What I found less compelling were the interactions between the filmmakers and their friends and family at home and on various phone calls. The dialogue seemed contrived and there seemed to be a special group affinity for a certain expletive, which at first was a distraction then became an outright annoyance. Certain portions of the film, with the in and out sound quality, variable lighting conditions and choice in background music made me think of a low-budget horror movie and I found myself urging the filmmakers to get back to story on the streets.
Overall, the historical content captured in the documentary make it worthy of being considered in any film festivalâ€™s documentary award category. But I was less enthused with the quality of the threads used to connect and put the project on display.
â€œ1/2 Revolutionâ€ debuts in Washington on October 25 at the Landmark E Street Theater at 7p.m. It was released at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has gone on to win the Gold Award for Best Film at the 2012 Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival and is the winner of Best Documentary Film at Londonâ€™s East End Film Festival.
The IMPACT Arts + Film Fund (IAFF) was created as a platform for artists and filmmakers to engage in the political and policy arena. IAFF is based in Washington D.C. and hosts screenings, panel discussions, promotional events and book launches to educate and enlighten its audiences and creates
**Darryl Keeton is a distribution executive in the asset management industry. He and his wife Zoe Rodriguez-Keeton share a passion for adventure, travel and sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.***