The ongoing nature of the Egyptian Revolution has not stymied Jehane Moujain from chronicling the events in her new documentary, The Square. The Audience Award for World Cinema winner from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival has found a home on Netflix, which has produced its first trailer in advance of the January 17, 2014 premiere date.
Following the people-led revolution in Egypt started in 2011 for Moujain and her film, when the Arab Spring was in its eager early stages. The varied swaths of people all united together in the fight to bring the popular will’s control to the government offices alleging to defend it. And though it started with the removal of President Hosni Mubarak, it did not end there.
The Square allows for a more nuanced and exacting discussion on the complicated and heartbreaking story. As Moujain noted in her interview with Jon Stewart, where eager optimism once held fast in the heart of the film’s subjects, a maelstrom of betrayal, confusion, and restless disappointment begins to blossom, giving us outsiders a way into what went wrong and right in this ongoing quest for a free and democratic nation. The six protesters the documentary followed are real people: unpredictable, impassioned, and thrashed with the muddled uncertainties that come with rebuilding and attempting to change a nation.
The emotional complexities on which unfold through the friendship of Magdy Ashour — a member of the army-allied Muslim Brotherhood — and Ahmed Hassan, a hopeful Egyptian, dissatisfied but determined to move the cause forward. Alongside fellow activists Khalid Abdalla, Ragia Omran, Ramy Essam and Aida El Kashef, the widely depicted events gain an intimacy and chaotic fervor, and show the limitations of a revolution without organizational and authoritative control.
The first cut of the film — the one that premiered at Sundance — followed just these events. However, that has all changed given the continued evolution of the movement in the summer of 2013. So, naturally, Moujain and her crew returned to Egypt this summer to watch the army’s ousting of successor President Mohamed Morsi, and the subsequent violent campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers.
Impossible sacrifice and unity takes place as the tides begin to turn. Things increasingly complicate as the transitional regime put in place following Murbarak’s fall takes a more punishing and violent route in the name of security. “Only we can tell our stories,” the voiceover states. “It was a war in the Square, it was not a revolution,” Hassan adds.
And though theirs is a tale without immediate or clear end, The Square pushes forward, hopeful for the cause of the revolutionaries, despite their limitations. After all, their story “began with a group of brave young Egyptians, fighting battling injustice, corruption, poverty,” so who’s to say it won’t end that way eventually?
The Square will premiere on Netflix January 17, 2014.