Watching filmmaker Jehane Noujaim's (Startup.com, Control Room, Egypt: We Are Watching You) documentary The Square, about the Egyptian revolution that began in Tahrir Square and ousted both Hosni Mubarack and Mohamed Morsi from power, one gets the visceral sensation that the iterations of the uprising thus far have played themselves out before you. You will likely feel spent but rewarded, having tasted some of the revolution's intellectual and emotional complexity through the experiences of the protestors Noujaim was fortunate enough to find, befriend and chronicle.
There is no question the film has a point of view -- Noujaim grew up just minutes from Tahrir Square and was herself in the square as a protestor. She does not claim objectivity, however and the result is a film with the intimate, personal, passionate sensibility of a revolutionary diary, and the authoritative voice of an insider.
One of the most interesting characters in Tahrir Square whom she profiles is Magdy Ashour, who is part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Through his bond and friendship with the more liberal protesters Noujaim follows, we get a unique view into the Brotherhood, its membership, its role and its functioning, as well as the complex challenge it poses. It becomes clear that there is no understanding a social movement without understanding its component personalities; no understanding the macro without the micro.
In the conversation I hosted at a recent New York screening of The Square, Noujaim's comments were not only revealing of the mortal challenges of making such a documentary, but also of the overall situation in Egypt in ways not readily available through news outlets. She has a gift for both filmic and verbal communication. While the film is currently under censorship in Egypt, in the United States, The Square opens theatrically and will also be available for streaming on Netflix January 17, 2014. The video of our full conversation, as well as pulled clips, are available below. I highly recommend exploring the lot.