With Public Protests Continuing In Egypt, Watch '1/2 Revolution' In Rememberance Of The 2011 Uprising

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by Tambay A. Obenson
July 2, 2013 2:55 PM
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I'm sure most of you have been paying attention to what we could say is effectively another revolution in Egypt since the early 2011 uprising that eventually led to then president Hosni Mubarak stepping down, only to be replaced by military rule; and thus, what has come to be known as the "Egyptian revolution" essentially continues...

With regards to the current unrest, the Egyptian army has said it will suspend the constitution, dissolve parliament and force new elections if politicians cannot meet a looming deadline to resolve the country's political crisis, according to Reuters.

The announcement on Tuesday came a day after the military gave politicians 48 hours to come to an agreement and calm mass protests against the rule of President Mohamed Morsi, leaving only 24 hours for a solution to be found.

An army source told Reuters that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was still discussing details and the plan, and it could change, based on political developments and consultations.

But with the deadline looming, hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters have been on the streets of Cairo. Opposition groups, such as the Tamarod, have been emboldened by the army’s statement and have called on its supporters to remain on the streets until the deadline has passed.

Pressure on Morsi continues to mount as the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, called on him to engage in "serious national dialogue" with his opponents.

Even President Obama contacted Morsi by telephone to urge him to listen to the voices of "the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country."

More of Morsi's cabinet and advisers resigned on Tuesday, including his military adviser, who said the army would not "abandon the will of the people."

As this continues to unfold, I'm sure many on the front-lines are documenting it all from their perspectives, with cameras, large and small, and some of these will eventually become full-fledged films, both shorts and features, which we'll likely be talking about in another year or so.

Just as we did with those that were born during the 2011 uprising, including this one, titled 1/2 Revolution, directed by Omar Shargawi and Karim El Hakim - a raw 72-minute film, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Fesitval, that documented the uprising, and one that I encourage you to see if you haven't. It's currently available on home video.

An immediate, visceral, first-person documentation of just a few days of a still ongoing struggle, one year after that first day, January 25, 2011 (also referred to as the "Day of Revolt"), when protests erupted throughout Egypt, with tens of thousands gathered in multiple cities all over the country, targeting the then autocratic governance of President Hosni Mubarak (30 years in the making) - the poverty, unemployment, and government corruption.

Armed with consumer cameras, a close-knit group of friends risk death to capture the historic waves of non-violent protests, met with an equally determined and violent response from the government and armed forces, further intensifying the danger of the circumstances that would eventually envelope them in their neighborhood near Tahrir Square during the early chaotic days of what has now come to be called the Egyptian revolution.

The viewer is practically thrown into the uprising from the first frame to the last. You're right there with them, every step of the way (the tear gas, the batons, then the bullets) and are thus privy to events that you wouldn't have seen in the mainstream media - bodies, battered and bloodied, lifeless, being dragged across concrete pavement by fellow protesters, bullets lodged in flesh, the impassioned screams for change, voices angry and resolute, willing to die for a cause.

It's 72 minutes of relentless struggle and this viewer found it exhausting, as it should be. It suggests that the filmmakers accomplished what they set out to do with the film - not just paint a picture for the audience to view and analyze from a distance; we are thrown into the chaos, in the streets with them, as their struggle becomes ours as well; we're invested and want to see them (or rather us) succeed.

And succeed they do, at least with forcing Mubarak to eventually step down under pressure, but only to be replaced with military junta rule, which is still in place a year later, hence the title of the film; meaning, the revolution hasn't ended.

A luta continua as the saying goes.

No pomp and circumstance, no flash; just raw footage of a few days of a historic moment in time, cut into a 72 minute rush.

A few moments of calm scattered about, usually filled with impassioned discourse about the events taking place, in real time, in the streets - the gunshots, the screams, the explosions just an ear-shot away; but it's mostly storm.

It's not really a film that I'd grade as either *good* or *bad*; it just is. And your appreciation for it will depend on your interest in and understanding of the real events the film documents; so a little backstory would help.

In fact, if I were to point out one of the film's *weaknesses* it would be that it doesn't give the audience enough information on what inspired this new revolution. There are exclamations here and there cursing Mubarak's 30-year rule, but a basic (at least) awareness of the country's recent history would be helpful here.

I couldn't help but think of another movie about a revolution - Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle Of Algiers - the 1966 film on Algeria's struggles for independence from under French rule; a film and a revolution that went on to inspire others (films and revolutions), just as I think 1/2 Revolution (directed by Omar Shargawi and Karim El Hakim) has the authenticity and power to do as well. 

Watch the intense trailer below:

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