This week, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture begins Ten Years Since Tahrir, a weekly film series curated by Egyptian film critic and programmer, Joseph Fahim. The virtual series will run into May and screen documentaries, features, and shorts based on the 2011 Egyptian Revolution by award-winning Egyptian directors such as Johanna Domke, Anna Roussillon, and Ahmad Abdalla.
Ten Years Since Tahrir tells the difficult stories of the responses to civil unrest taking place in the Middle East, a theme that Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture has never shied away from. “Movies are useful in communicating specific conditions to broad audiences,” says Al-Bustan executive director Mohannad Ghawanmeh.
On January 25, 2011, known as the “Day of Revolt,” Egyptians throughout the country took to the streets in protest to topple the presidency of Hosni Mubarak. Since then, protests and civil unrest have disrupted the Egyptian government, even following President Mubarak’s death in 2020. Ten Years Since Tahrir takes a look at the people who experienced the protests firsthand, from political prisoners to journalists to families watching the uprising on the news.
I Am the People, directed by Anna Roussillon, follows a family living in south Egypt, far from Tahrir Square, and their reactions to the 2011 protests. Rags and Tatters by Ahmad Abdalla is a documentary that tells the story of an escapee following the protests. Other documentaries manage to combine cinematic elements like Ahmed Ismaiel Nour’s Waves (titled Moug in Arabic) which blends animation with live-action. Each film brings something special in with what story is being told.
The films selected discuss a period in recent history to whose discussion the current Egyptian government is highly sensitive. Al-Bustan hopes to hold Q&A discussions with filmmakers when possible. Fahim will moderate the Q&A. Known for his work in Middle East Eye, Fahim connected Al-Bustan with the directors and has made this series a personal push.
“A wave of high-spirited fiction and nonfiction films were made to capitalize on the popularity of the revolutions,” Fahim recently wrote in a BBC article on the springing up of events in the Middle East throughout the past decade which inspired these stories being told. “All of them were primarily focused on the devastating impact of the war on the civilians. This tragic atmosphere translated to the films being produced.”
What, When, Where, and Accessibility
Ten Years Since Tahrir will open with I Am the People on Friday, April 2, at noon through Sunday, April 4, at noon. A new film will premiere every Friday in April, with the schedule still to be determined for May. Access is pay-what-you-wish, starting at $3; reserve online.