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Filmmakers of the world turn their camera towards the Arab Spring

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/4/2012 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Photographers fearlessly documenting a way of life being irrevocably changed

Journalists of the world have all risen to the challenge to document a way of life in a part of the world that is being irrevocably changed. While some feel the Arab Spring has turned into a winter full of uncertainty, newspapers, films, videos, blog posts and songs - are all being used to document events, expose the horrors of war and explore the struggles and possibilities following the upheavals in the Arab world.

Syria has no national commercial cinema and only Hollywood movies and Egypt films are publicly available, resulting in the total absence of a common film culture among civilians. In fact, most authoritarian regimes thrive on placing severe restrictions on the collective imagination of their populations, limiting their ability to conjure up alternatives to the daily routine of repression.

Syria has no national commercial cinema and only Hollywood movies and Egypt films are publicly available, resulting in the total absence of a common film culture among civilians. In fact, most authoritarian regimes thrive on placing severe restrictions on the collective imagination of their populations, limiting their ability to conjure up alternatives to the daily routine of repression.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/4/2012 (5 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: Arab spring, filmmakers, Syria, Yemen, censorship


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During Arab Spring World Cinema day at Berlin's 62nd international film festival, Arab filmmakers have displayed a wide variety of feelings about the changes wrought in their native lands. A virtual tidal wave of transformation is sweeping across Arab countries and creating a new, collective culture of resistance.

One such film project, entitled "A Blood Swimming Pool" sets its sights on Yemen's blood-soaked history. Irish filmmaker Sean McAllister sets off for Sana'a, the nation's capital, for an unsparing look at the world's second most heavily militarized country.

Wishing to film the daily surge of opposition against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year regime, McAllister teams up with Kais, a 35-year-old tour guide who became his guide.

True to Kais' prophecy, the pair witnesses a "blood swimming pool" rather than "blood bath" during the Friday of Dignity massacre of March 18, 2011 when 52 peaceful protesters were shot to death by government forces.

Another project, "The Reluctant Revolutionary", a nail-biting personal and political journey follows Kais from a pro-regime citizen into the heart of the country's "freedom camps" until, a convert to change, he reflects: "I never imagined seeing rival tribes coming and sitting here in peace, without their Kalashnikovs."

The challenges of filming while caught up in ongoing chaos are portrayed through an unsteady rollercoaster visual ride as McAllister doubles as director and cameraman, unable to hold the camera still for very long.

In addition, filmmakers from Syria have dutifully recorded images of daily civilian massacres.

According to film journalist Alaa Karkouti, Syria has no national commercial cinema and only Hollywood movies and Egypt films are publicly available, resulting in the total absence of a common film culture among civilians.

In fact, most authoritarian regimes thrive on placing severe restrictions on the collective imagination of their populations, limiting their ability to conjure up alternatives to the daily routine of repression.

While working on a documentary about the "caricature scandal," a story about freedom of expression circumventing censorship, Syrian producer and film activist Hala Al Alabdallah unearthed a law forbidding the use of "images devoid of commentary." The discovery highlighted just how insidious repression can be.

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