Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NYFF 2011: Tahrir (2011)

A documentary on the events in Tahrir Square in Cairo back in January and February when the people seized control of the square in protest and fought to bring down the government.

This is an immediate, you are there document of what happened in the square over the course of the revolution. It's from the ground level, down amongst the people in the square. If you wanted to know what it was like this will give you a good idea...

...and it will probably bore you after a while. I know it bored me to the point that about an hour in I got up and walked out.

Forgive me, but while the film is an important document about what it was like in the square, it's very close to being little more than watching someone's home video of the events. Saying that maybe sacrilege but it's true. We watch lots of people singing and chanting and talking and fighting... But we get no context of what or when anything is happening. Yes we see the days pass, and yes there is the first title about it being 6 days into the revolution, but other than that we get nothing. Its people and events and that's it with no effort to clarify who anyone is.

Worse many of the events we see are only partial recordings of what was happening, as if the filmmakers came upon something already under way and then they stopped filming when they got dangerous.

My constant thought was what am I watching? Who are these people talking? Some of the people we see again and again but who are they? A name? a name would have been nice.

With a documentary such as this, a documentary where events are only a mere matter of months old and were heavily covered on various news outlets, there has to be more than just footage of the sort we might have seen on a CNN report or an Internet viral clip. There has to be a context; and there never is any just, more and more people.

As a record of what it was like this film will have some interest to future historians but I don't think this will stand any test of time.

I gleaned nothing new and for the first time (and hopefully the last time) at this years New York Film Festival I felt as though I wasted my time.

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