Review: ‘Words of Witness’

If "Words of Witness" were a news article, it would be accused of burying the lead.

If “Words of Witness” were a news article, it would be accused of burying the lead. The idea of following a young Egyptian as she tries to establish herself as a journalist and cover her country’s revolution is a noble idea, but there’s so much happening outside the periphery of Mai Iskander’s docu that viewers will feel they’re missing the real story. Heba Afify, the 22-year-old with the pink pen, doesn’t appear to lack nerve or understanding, but she always seems to be where the story isn’t, or on top of something that doesn’t happen. Potential seems limited.

Constructed as a feminist take on a global situation, the docu doesn’t quite give Afify her due, given what she’s up against: Her traditional family, while not fighting her career choice, isn’t exactly enlightened. Afify does show a lot of spine getting in subjects’ faces during street protests and, in one case, storming State Security headquarters in search of political prisoners. But Iskander spends an inordinate amount of screen time showing her checking her accounts on Facebook and Twitter; auds could probably do this themselves, without forking over the price of admission.

Words of Witness



An Iskander Films presentation in association with Birthmark Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures. (International sales: Films Transit Intl., Montreal/New York.) Produced by Mai Iskander. Executive producers, Tiffany Schauer, Steve Cohen. Co-producer, Kelcey Edwards. Co-executive producer, Wynne Comer. Directed by Mai Iskander.


Camera (color), Iskander; editor, Shannon Kennedy; music, Barbara Cohen; sound/sound designers, Dow McKeever, Marsha Moore; re-recording mixer, McKeever; associate producers, Ahmed M. Elabd, Dina Harb, Ines Nagy, Yasmine Nazmy, Sarah Seigel. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Aug. 17, 2012. (In DocuWeeks; Los Angeles Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 71 MIN.


Heba Afify, Hannan Afify, Ahmed Afify, Noha Afify.

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