“The Trials of Spring,” a documentary about the tumultuous revolts that have shaken the Muslim world, will bow online with six installments on the New York Times’ website. Each short film will bow on the nytimes.com homepage over the course of six days, beginning on June 7.
The documentary leads the audience through the lives of nine women whose quest for social justice led to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen.
Director Gini Reticker said that her curiosity led her to explore international warfare from the female perspective, providing an intimate inside look at events that had been little understood in the outside world. “It was in almost every place we looked that behind the stories… women were the instigators,” said Reticker. “These are stories that you don’t know at all, and it’s amazing.”
Producer Beth Levison had never documented women on the international stage before this film. She said her unfamiliarity drove her to share the women’s stories. “I don’t think that I was seeing or reading stories about women in the region…There were stories about war and destruction and despotism and dictatorships,” Levison said.
After working on a previous film in the region, Reticker said that she learned that women are often ignored by the media. “I remember having journalists say to me, ‘Oh I saw those women, but they were so pathetic-looking that I didn’t write about them.’ And that there was something far more sexy about a guy with a gun.”
“The Trials of Spring” presents the message that women in the Middle East do not need saving. In an attempt to gather a wide viewership, the filmmakers said they opted to release much of their project on the Times’ website.
“We knew from the beginning that we wanted a Web initiative that was super-focused and tight, not like a blog or huge campaign, but something that was focused and had a really strong reach,” said Levison. “We also knew that we couldn’t expect for people to come to our website for a new project. We had to bring the content to where the people already are.”
The six short films will culminate in the world premiere of the “Trials of Spring” feature documentary at the 2015 Human Rights Watch Film Festival on June 12 in New York City.