Oscar Nominee The Square Review

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia

‘The Square’, directed by Jehane Noujaim, examines in detail the events of the 2011 Egyptian protests that successfully ousted President Hosni Mubarak and the fallout that followed. Torture, police brutality, and religious strife worsen the situation, while local media distorts what’s happening and the western media either ignores the protests or misunderstands the situation.

 

Winner of the Audience Award for World Cinema at Sundance 2013, the People’s Choice award at TIFF 2013, and nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards, The Square is not a film to be missed. When protests started again in early 2013, Noujaim returned to capture what was happening, editing the new footage in with the previous movie. Although the names change, the protests are for the same reasons; bread and social justice.

Taking its name from Tahrir Square, where the biggest protests were and are still held, The Square is powerful stuff. It runs the gamut from youthful hope to unbearable frustration when the same problems keep rearing their head, when the media turns against the protests, and when fellow protestors betray the cause for political gain. Although the final message is one of hope, it’s not going to be an easy journey. Following the original revolt in 2011, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Morsi gained power. Even though he was democratically elected, Morsi quickly gave himself far greater powers than even Mubarak had held. Enraged Egyptians took to the streets once more and Morsi was deposed in a military coup. Unfortunately the cycle has continued and the Egyptian people are currently protesting against the cruelty and abuse of power by the military. It’s the same problem, just the names have changed.

The emphasis on the importance of art and music throughout the doc is one I haven’t seen before, and was glad to see examined. Every revolution has a voice, creates symbols and songs and far too often those are ignored or under-emphasised. Here, the focus on this creative spark and the power of the music of Ramy Essam, dubbed the musician of the revolution, shows that there is a fire, a passion that cannot be denied.

If I had one criticism, it would be the lack of perspective on the other revolutions of the time. Even a passing mention of the situations developing in the Sudan, Yemen, Kuwait and others, would have illustrated that this is not an isolated incident. However, this is an Egyptian documentary about a key moment in Egyptian history, so its focus on Egypt is understandable.

You can view ‘The Square’ now, on Netflix.

A must-see.

– Donal O’Connor

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