The spring Egyptian revolt in Cairo’s Tahrir Square has prompted a deluge of docus. But “Tahrir 2011 — The Good, the Bad, and the Politician” is likely to be the only one loosely inspired by a spaghetti Western.
“I wanted to do the same event from different perspectives, so Sergio Leone’s ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ came to mind,” said Amr Salama, one of three helmers of the sometimes playful docu structured in three half-hour chapters.
“It gives you the whole perspective. It’s a like a three-dimensional film, in a way,” said Salama, who handled “The Politician” section, which delves into the psyche of toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Salama’s section is a satirical take on “how to become a dictator in 10 steps,” he said, “as if it were a bad infomercial; and the 10th step is the denial and how a dictator falls.”
He said he sourced it from people who spent time with Mubarak in his final days in power, “especially the guy who spent the last 48 hours with him before he stepped down.” It’s “almost a mockumentary, with a surreal, satirical approach.” That is “because when I was making it I was so stressed, that I could not take it seriously.” For Ayten Amin, who shot “The Bad” section dedicated to the country’s police and security forces, the film is first and foremost “a personal journey.”
“Before the revolution I never did anything political, and I never talked to a police officer,” she said.Not surprisingly, most the police officers she interviewed did not want to talk to her, at least not at first.
“All the interviews went on for five or six hours; but the last 30 minutes were the most important because they just got tired of lying,” she said.
In a way, Tamer Ezzat, who handled “The Good,” about the ordinary heroes in Tahrir Square, may have had the easiest task. “For me it was obvious. I really identified with who the good people were and who the bad people were,” he said.
But he had to sift through a massive amount of material. “Our editor has established a media center in the middle of Tahrir Square where we received donated footage shot on cellphones and video cameras. We used that as our starting point.” For all of them it’s important that this film was partly made by the people who were active in the revolution. They also used Twitter and Facebook to ask folks to provide them with footage. And they got more than 300 gigabytes’ worth.
“The people gave us their material because they appreciated the power of documenting this revolution for future generations,” Samara said.
Docu, being sold by Pacha Pictures, segues to Toronto and a slew of other fests. It is expected to be the first Tahrir Square docu released theatrically in Egypt.