Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Look: Emilia Clarke, Matt Smith & Jason Clarke In 'Terminator: Genisys,' Plot Details Revealed First Look: Emilia Clarke, Matt Smith & Jason Clarke In 'Terminator: Genisys,' Plot Details Revealed Marvel Announces 'Black Panther,' 'Captain Marvel,' Two-Part 'Avengers: Infinity War' And More Marvel Announces 'Black Panther,' 'Captain Marvel,' Two-Part 'Avengers: Infinity War' And More 8 Films That Influenced Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' 8 Films That Influenced Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Exclusive: Sean Durkin Directed Video For Sharon Van Etten's "Your Love Is Killing Me" Exclusive: Sean Durkin Directed Video For Sharon Van Etten's "Your Love Is Killing Me" Listen: 1-Hour Masterclass With Paul Thomas Anderson At The New York Film Festival Listen: 1-Hour Masterclass With Paul Thomas Anderson At The New York Film Festival Benedict Cumberbatch Is Marvel's 'Doctor Strange' Benedict Cumberbatch Is Marvel's 'Doctor Strange' Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Review: Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway & More Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Series Finale — Season 5, Episode 8 ‘Eldorado’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Series Finale — Season 5, Episode 8 ‘Eldorado’ Watch: A Twisted Jake Gyllenhaal Crosses The Line In Wicked Red Band Trailer For ‘Nightcrawler’ Watch: A Twisted Jake Gyllenhaal Crosses The Line In Wicked Red Band Trailer For ‘Nightcrawler’ Watch: 'The Invisible Man,' A 50-Minute Documentary On The Life And Career Of Stanley Kubrick Watch: 'The Invisible Man,' A 50-Minute Documentary On The Life And Career Of Stanley Kubrick Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville' 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes Kristen Stewart Says She's Taking "Time Off" From Acting To Pursue Other "Creative Endeavors" Kristen Stewart Says She's Taking "Time Off" From Acting To Pursue Other "Creative Endeavors" Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

'Tahrir: Liberation Square' Director Stefano Savona Talks Egypt, New Projects, Michael Moore & More

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist June 12, 2012 at 5:05PM

Media coverage for the Arab Spring has slowed down in recent months, but that doesn't mean things in the Middle East have settled down. Egypt, for example, is facing election woes, and the President they toppled more than a year ago has just been given a verdict for his various crimes.
0
Stefano Savona Tahrir

Media coverage for the Arab Spring has slowed down in recent months, but that doesn't mean things in the Middle East have settled down. Egypt, for example, is facing election woes, and the President they toppled more than a year ago has just been given a verdict for his various crimes.

And so we look back to the beginnings of the Egyptian revolution, as “Tahrir: Liberation Square” opens in limited release this week. The film, a verite account of the protests leading up to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, is a strong account of those tumultuous weeks, refusing to budge from the eponymous location as citizens call for a better tomorrow. It’s a captivating, highly focused documentary, a true pearl amongst similarly themed political/social-issue documentaries.

Prolific filmmaker Stefano Savona is behind the project (if you haven’t heard of him yet, you will), and we were able to discuss ‘Tahrir’ with him as well as his upcoming projects, the state of Egypt, his place as an Italian telling a Middle Eastern story, and even his opinions on Michael Moore flicks. “Tahrir: Liberation Square” is now playing at the Maysles Cinema in New York City.

Tahrir
I notice you have a number of movies released in the past three years...
Yes, I have never been so productive in my life. (laughs) It's a bit of a coincidence because one was doing the war in Gaza and was just like a witness of those days, a very particular movie. The following two, one is a project I've been working on for four years and it was simply finished in 2011, and Tahrir was a kind of an adventure that ended up as a movie. But usually I take much more time to make a movie.

My question is, how did you juggle all of these? You must have been shooting one, editing another...
The problem is that it's so difficult to finance the movies. The only way I can finance these things is by working on them, finding enough material to apply for some money from television or from the National Institute of Cinema here in France. Some of them never end up as a movie because I either can't finance them or the subject loses my interest and so on and so forth. Because of this, I used to do many projects at the same time and when I would feel that one of them is ready to be finished, so I get into it and finish it.

Tahrir
So you have abandoned, partially shot films?
Yup. But sometimes if they don't become a movie they can be used for other things. There is a very long project I have where I've been shooting over two hundred interviews with very old people in Sicily, about 85 to 105 years old, and I've been doing it for two years. Eventually I will try to make some movies out of these archives, but even if I don't get a movie out of it and it just stays as an archival thing or video installation, that's okay for me.

Given all of the countries participating in the Arab Spring, why did you specifically choose to document Egypt?
Before being a filmmaker, I worked in Egypt about twenty years ago. I felt that one day I should make a movie there, but I never could figure out what. I went back almost every year, and when the revolution began, I just had to go. I thought this was the moment where my relationship with Egypt makes sense, finally, for a movie. But in a way, it might have been Tunisia because I am Sicilian so I am near there, and I actually set my first movie in that country about 10 years ago. But my relationship with Egypt is special, so it had to be there.

Tahrir
Say Egypt went more along the lines that Syria unfortunately did. Was there a gameplan in that case?
Everybody in the square was almost refusing to believe in any alternative other than Mubarak leaving, and I understood that the second I got there. Very often I had been asking political questions for years, and I never received any answer in front of the camera, but at that moment in the square, everybody wanted to speak about politics in front of the camera! Nobody was afraid anymore, and everybody was banking on toppling Mubarak because otherwise they wouldn't be able to get back home.

While shooting, were you thinking of other documentaries to model this one after?
I didn't really have the time to prepare for this one because I decided to leave the following day, but of course all of the films I saw in the previous years had influenced me. When I was in the square, the very first movie that came to mind was the Maysles "Gimme Shelter." I had watched it very recently, so I told my girlfriend (who was eventually there and the editor of the movie) to keep watching movies about the music and concerts in the '70s because it's the kind of atmosphere that we had to render. Some direct cinema, and the work of William Klein, May 68 in France, or even the work on "Muhammad Ali The Greatest."

This article is related to: Tahrir, Stefano Savona, Documentary


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates