The Square

2014 | 01:44 | NR

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From the 2011 overthrow of a 30-year dictator, through military rule, and culminating with the forced military removal of the Muslim Brotherhood president in the summer of 2013, we follow a group of Egyptian activists as they battle leaders and regimes, and risk their lives to build a new society of conscience.

The Egyptian Revolution has been an ongoing roller coaster. Through the news, we only get a glimpse of the bloodiest battle, an election, or a million man march. At the beginning of August 2013, we witnessed the second president deposed within the space of three years.

The Square is a truly immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news. It is the inspirational story of young people claiming their rights, struggling through multiple forces: from a brutal army dictatorship willing to crush protesters with military tanks, to a corrupt Muslim Brotherhood using mosques to manipulate voters.

The activists in our film are armed with nothing more than cameras, social media, videos posted to YouTube, and a resolute determination to liberate their nation. The film is made in a cinéma vérité style, giving us an up-close view of revolution from the ground. New technologies show us that the voice of young people cannot be silenced in this digital age. Our characters are fighting an ancient war with new weapons.

The Square was first released as an unfinished cut at Sundance in January of 2013, where it received the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. Yet as the filmmakers were accepting the award, the characters of the film were back in the streets of Egypt fighting, as the first democratically elected president announced that he was granting himself powers greater than their previous dictator.

With these unexpected events, we knew that the story was not over, so we returned to the streets to capture what would become the second part to the story — the battle against the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi’s removal by the Egyptian army.

We witness the incredible sacrifice these activists endure on the road to freedom. Through the voices of these daring revolutionaries, we understand why they believe that it’s worth risking life and limb for ideals and the future of the country.

This documentary takes us on a transformational journey into this historical revolution first-hand through the eyes of both secular and Muslim Brotherhood protagonists, who once stood united with one another against a brutal regime. The audience watches as the country splits, and those who once ate together, slept next to each other, and joined forces in Tahrir Square to fight for dignity and social justice, are forced to stand opposite one another, divided by politics, on the streets of Cairo.

The Square is a live developing story of the quintessential struggle for freedom and democracy, of people putting everything on the line to fight for their rights against institutional powers. Egypt has become a battleground of ideas, and the films shows that it is the most devout of Muslims that will take to the street to fight the abuse of religion to create a fascist state. For the first time, Muslims in vast numbers are fighting against political Islam. The complexity of what is happening here cannot be summed up in a news report. What happens in Egypt will dramatically affect the rest of the Middle East and the world.

Our goal for audiences is to experience the evolution of a revolution in the 21st century and understand what these activists are trying to say: civil rights and freedoms are never given away, they are fought for. Historically, this has always been the case, from the Civil Rights movement to the fight against Apartheid. But how does this fight begin and sustain itself and ultimately become successful? This film shows that true change in a society does not begin with a majority, but the relentless and ongoing commitment of individuals to those principles of change.

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