A reflection on After Tahrir

Attending the Egyptian Insurgency Short Film Festival, on Sunday, Jan 24 at the Pollock Theater, was extraordinary and I was very impressed to be a part of such a professionally cultural and social experience. Intellectually pioneered from a creative perspective, the emotional events and experiences that liberated the Egyptian people could be felt throughout the film. Collectively, each of the film shorts respectfully depicted and honored both the Egyptian revolution and the Nation of Islam with gracious depictions of real life and lived experiences. The impressive quality and design of the film immediately caught my attention. I found myself responsively involved in the demonstrative events that followed the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the fall of Mubarak. The works of digital media activist and design artist, Vj Um Amel with her innovative and award winning cyborg style of contemporary video distortion, were both vividly expressive and socially powerful. While the short film, Women and Youth of the Arab Revolution (2011), by social media theorist Laila Shereen Sakr was respectfully representative of the youth movements in chaos, the sensitively provocative landscape of explicitly recorded live cinema noticeably gives voice to an oppressed Arab woman, un-marginalizing the female perspective and placing it at the forefront of the digital revolution.

In contrast to the short film festival, the After Tahrir Conference complemented the revolutionary film with a collection in-depth panel discussions. One of the panelists noted that revolution is an ongoing process, in responding to the question of how will Egypt sustain democracy in a chaotic post-revolt Egyptian society both politically and economically. He further stated that thoughts about the past affirm that things will return to the complexity of the present moment through lived experiences. Another panelist saw human agency as an important factor in the current revolution. She stated that outside players will factor more in the future. Finding that the many perspectives of what is considered victory for the revolution will have to be addressed to move beyond the current point. All in all, I was quite pleased with the completeness of the combined experiences and will continue to stay informed on the ground-breaking revolution of the Egyptian people.

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A reflection on After Tahrir

Short Film Festival – Kazeboon

The Egyptian Insurgency Short Film Festival presented an interesting variety of clips. One question that arose in the Q&A session after the screening was in reference to a Kazeboon clip screened by Wael Eskandar. In this short film former president Morsi could be seen contradicting himself, either about his relationship to Israel or about his purported and later denied work with NASA. Eskandar answered the question about the funny atmosphere of the film by referring to the ridiculousness of Morsi’s behavior. Yes, the scenes seemed totally absurd, but the laughter can quickly turn into tears when one brings to mind how serious the situation was and how badly Egyptians were treated under Morsi’s rule. I later watched the 26-minute Kazeboon video on the aftertahrir.net-website, which included scenes about current president el-Sisi. This video again managed to show the absurdity of el-Sisi’s behavior and was then followed by shocking footage of rape and torture.

The Kazeboon videos were shown on the streets and I can only imagine how dangerous that must have been and what consequences would have followed if they had been caught. Those videos should not only be shown to Egyptians but to the whole world and especially those people who still don’t understand why those refugees don’t go back to where they came from.

Another Kazeboon clip screened at the festival was comprised of footage of Egyptian protesters combined with Matthew McConaughey’s monologue from “Interstellar” on the audio track. The words fit the situation in Egypt incredibly well and yet it was absurd considering the fact that phrases like “the ability to overcome the impossible” and “our proudest achievements” were originally meant to refer to astronautics. Space travel seems so trivial to much more vital issues like human rights. It is odd to think that we might better understand why something is happening in outer space than why something is happening on the planet we live on.

Short Film Festival – Kazeboon