Arab Spring hits silver screen at Venice festival


Arab cinema is witnessing a new wave of creativity in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts, said directors at the Venice film festival where some of the emerging talent from the region was on show. Social themes that were previously kept bottled up are now making their way on film and the monopoly of older established directors is being whittled away as the repercussions of new freedoms are felt in many parts of the region. “There is something in revolution that gives you energy. It makes you want to talk and explore,” said Hinde Boujemaa, a Tunisian director who brought her moving documentary “Ya man aach” (“It Was Better Tomorrow”) to the festival. “I have a lot of hope for Arab cinema in the coming years,” she told AFP. “There are new ideas, a new way of seeing things, a new type of cinema. And on top of that we have the freedom to speak,” she said. Boujemaa’s film was shot during and after the Tunisian revolution of January 2011 and focuses on a troubled divorced mother whose hopes for a better life after the uprising are dashed as she struggles to hold on to her children. The director said she found the heroine of the documentary when she was out filming demonstrations against the Tunisian regime, adding: “I think anyone who had a video camera in Tunisia at that time went into the streets.” She said she wanted to tell the story of Aida because she saw her as one of the poor mass of Tunisians often passed over in media coverage. “The people are ignored. She is the people who are ignored and it is the people who carried out the revolution!” she said. The feature film “El sheita elli fat” (“Winter of Discontent”) by Egyptian director Ibrahim El Batout, which was shot during and after the protests that ousted Hosni Mubarak, also focuses on individuals. “It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my acting career. The givens were exceptional. Everything was exceptional!” said actor Amr Waked, who plays an Internet activist who was tortured under the regime. Waked was one of the first Egyptian celebrities to come out in favour of the Tahrir Square protests and joined the demonstrations.