Indy Film Fest

25Jun/120

Indy Film Fest 2012: BACK TO THE SQUARE

Guest post by Joe Ball
Bio: Proud Hoosier. Consumer of movies, music, smart jokes, tacos & bourbon. Attempting to grow up without selling out.

As a news media consumer and former History teacher, I take pride in remaining informed as to what’s occurring outside the safe confines of Indianapolis. I recall watching Richard Engel of NBC reporting from dozens of locations during the winter of 2010-11 as citizens of Tunisia, and then Egypt and then other Middle East countries began the civil uprising known as the Arab Spring. However, I assume that I am like many whose focus shifted to other stories once cameras and correspondents left the places of protest. Sure, we might recall the story of CBS News reporter Lara Logan being brutally assaulted by a mob in Cairo following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. But how aware are we of the widespread corruption among Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces? Or the unlawful detention of thousands of citizens for actions we Americans hold sacred? As much as I like to remain informed, I admit that I am guilty of only occasionally seeking out news on the revolution since early 2011.

Media focus shifted back to Egypt in late May 2012 for their democratic elections and even more recently following the health crisis of the former president Mubarak. But what might we learn from those still struggling to find peace and prosperity in the post-revolution chaos? 'Back to the Square,' the fourth documentary by filmmaker Petr Lom, features five stories of Egyptians battling corruption and injustice in the wake of the toppled regime. Filmed in the months following Mubarak’s political departure, Lom profiles the struggles of everyday citizens who believed the “Facebook Revolution” would lead to political freedom and democracy. Unfortunately for many, change has come slowly as they live in a heightened state of fear, while society attempts to rebuild and police play without rules.

Whether by chance or choice, several of those profiled in the film are young citizens of Egypt. Their stories also happen to be the most powerful. The first is Wally Ragab, a teenage boy living in the shadows of the Great Pyramids. Journeying away from his job of selling souvenirs to tourists visiting the ancient wonder, Wally travels by horse to Tahrir Square to witness the revolution firsthand and ask those in power to reopen the Pyramids, so that he might once again earn money. Upon his arrival, he is beaten by pro-Mubarak supporters. Following his recovery, Wally sings along with the words of a revolution song on the radio, hoping the scar on his face soon fades away.

Salwa El-Hossini did not plan on falling in love when she left her village to protest in Tahrir Square. After meeting a boy and sharing conversation at a café, Salwa is arrested and forcibly given a virginity test, a common practice for female protestors. Accused by her village of being a prostitute for rebelling against the regime, Salwa refuses to be silenced, not even older men who could easily turn her over to police. Through adversity, her passion remains a symbol of what is needed if the revolution hopes to be successful. Her story alone is reason enough to see this film.

The end is not yet written for Wally, Salwa or the others in 'Back to the Square.'  Their struggle, like the seemingly stagnant rebuilding of Egypt, continues. As noted political thinker and writer Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.” Until this generation determines an appropriate end to the revolution, they will continue to protest in the square. But thanks to their stories, I remain informed and vow to follow along with their fight.


Back to the Square

Petr Lom 2012
Categories: Matter of Fact Features

View the 2012 Clip Reel:

The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!

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