El Batout reveals tragedy behind ‘Discontent’

Helmer's brother was tortured

Egyptian helmer Ibrahim El Batout had a particularly personal motive that drove him to shoot “Winter of Discontent,” the raw, eye-opening drama that is among his country’s first post-revolution pics, which world-preemed Saturday in Horizons.

“In 1996 my brother, who was working with me in Bosnia, was stopped at the airport by state security and tortured naked for 15 days for no reason,” said the former TV cameraman, who has covered 12 wars.

So, when the Tahrir Square uprising took place, and dictator Hosni Mubarak fell, his first concern was to make a movie that could “keep people from ever being tortured again.”

“I said, ‘There is one story that I have never told before that I would like to share with people — we’ve all been tortured, we’ve all been kicked in the ass, we’ve all been humiliated.'”

“Winter,” which intertwines the lives of a tortured activist computer whiz, a state security officer and a TV anchorwoman, is set during, and immediately after, the revolution. Pic is the first production from Cairo-based Zad, launched by Egyptian thesp Amr Waked, who also stars. Swipe Films is handling international sales.

There are plans to release “Winter” theatrically in Egypt despite concerns that some exhibitors may try to limit its exposure because they are still pro-Hosni Mubarak, the country’s former leader, Waked said.

Batout said Egypt is still grappling with the transition from military rule to democracy. “We are still learning. We are trying to discover how we can go there; but we are not there.”

After “Winter,” the prolific helmer with a news and doc background (“Ithaki” and “Eye of the Sun”) has another project also tied to Tahrir Square.

Titled “Ali, the Goat and Ibrahim,” it’s about a man who loses his girlfriend in the 2011 uprising and believes that her soul has been reincarnated in a goat.

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