"}
Film

The Square

The revolution, televised

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

With props to Gil Scott-Heron and his 1971 spoken-word classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Because one of the lessons of The Square—Jehane Noujaim’s unblinking, Oscar-nominated documentary about the mass gatherings in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011 and the roiling changes they set into motion—might be that even when the revolution looks like its being globally televised, it really isn’t being captured in all its aching, dogged, vulnerable complexity.

Those mass protests led to the February 2011 resignation of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. But Noujaim’s film attests to how quickly joyous weeping in the streets gave way to sectarian arguments over the army’s role and fissures in promising alliances of Christians and Muslims, men and women, secular Arabs and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Noujaim’s approach is cinéma vérité, but The Square doesn’t feel like fly-on-the-wall observations. It’s more intimate due to the ubiquity of new technologies and apps like Twitter and cell- phone cameras. Hurrah, the selfies that matter.

Which doesn’t mean The Square is a rough-hewn outing. Noujaim has made a visually inviting film, rife with revealing, earnest interviews but also rich with strong images and the necessary moments of emptier space and the silences that help us learn from them.

Central protagonists include British-Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner); Muslim Brotherhood activist Magdy Ashour; human-rights lawyer Ragia Omran; the revolution’s troubadour, Ramy Essam; street-tempered 20-something Ahmed Hassan; and media maverick Aida El Kashef, also in her 20s.

Although Noujaim interviews military officials, much of the movie is spent with “the people”—the activists, as well as others who believe in a “society of conscience.”

Only at times one gets the eerie sense that being with the people is not the same as being in the company of those making power plays for the Arab nation’s future.

In January of 2013, The Square won the audience prize at the Sundance Film Festival. In July of that year, Mohamed Morsi’s short-lived presidency came to an end. The filmmakers returned to Egypt afterward because events worked against anything like “closure.”

“We knew that the story was not over, so we returned to the streets to capture what would become the second part of the story,” said the filmmaker in a statement.

“The Square” provides cautionary as well as aspirational lessons. It’s ridiculous, yet not entirely false, to venture that ousting Mubarak was the easy part. Nurturing and sustaining democracy remains the challenging dream. Noujaim’s characters prove to be engaging stewards of that vision.

SVCR Cash-In
More Film...
Torrey Pines
A stop-motion labor of love

I’m not sure if Clyde Petersen knows this, but he is one of my personal heroes.

Clyde appeared in Bellingham’s music scene at about the same time I began writing about it, a little more than 15 years ago. His band, Your Heart Breaks, was one of the first that I watched grow from its…

more »
Miss Sloane
Such a nasty woman

Further evidence of the Aaron Sorkinization of American screenwriting, Miss Sloane is a talky, tense political thriller, full of verbal sparring and fiery monologues, undone by a really dumb ending. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t smart for most of its running time. Constructed like a…

more »
Nocturnal Animals
A story within a story

High art meets base behavior in Nocturnal Animals, the singular second feature from Tom Ford, the fashionista and filmmaker.

This melodramatic yet nihilistic thriller unfolds in two distinct yet connected locations and mindsets, like a collision between Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind

more »
Events
Today
Winter Book Sale

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Santa at Yeager's

4:00pm|Yeager's Toyland

A Christmas Story

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Teen Art Show

6:30pm|Oak Harbor Library

The Happy Elf

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Toys for Tots

9:00am|1650 Birchwood Ave.

Learn a little, dance a little

9:15am

20th annual Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Santa Train

5:00pm|Miniature Fun Center

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Pippi Longstocking

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Winter Wonderland

7:00pm|Nooksack High School Auditorium

A Night of Drama (and Comedy)

7:00pm|Explorations Academy

The North Pole Express

7:00pm|Bellingham Sportsplex

Ghosts and Games

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Breakfast with Santa

8:30am|Sedro-Woolley Community Center

Make It, Take It

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Jingle Bell Run

9:00am|Bellingham High School

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Whiskey Creek

Instructor Hiring Fair

9:00am|Bellingham Technical College

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center

Jingle Bell Run

9:00am|Bellingham High School

Winter Wonderland

10:00am|Children's Museum of Skagit County

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Coast Salish Winter Festival

10:00am|Lummi Gateway Center

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Howard Miller Steelhead Park

Holiday Faire

10:00am|Whatcom Hills Waldorf School

Holiday Tea

10:00am|South Whatcom Library

Lynden Book Club

10:30am|Lynden Library

John Walton Holiday Magic Shows

11:00am|Walton Theatre

Pet Pictures with Santa

12:00pm|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Artists' Registry Show

12:00pm|San Juan Island Museum of Art

Fairhaven Holiday Festival

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Inn

Holiday Food Show

12:00pm|Haggen stores

Eat. Drink, and Be Merry

12:00pm|Anderson Acres Barn

Holiday Jewels

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Holly Street History Tour

1:00pm|Holly Street

Homes for the Holidays

1:00pm|Lynden

Kids and Teens Holiday Gift Bazaar

2:00pm|Deming Library

International Human Rights Day

3:00pm|WECU Education Building

Good Yule Feast

3:00pm|Leopold Crystal Ballroom

BUG Holiday Concert

3:00pm|Ferndale Library

Poetry Trio

4:00pm|Village Books

Gratitude Revolution Reception

4:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Holiday Brewers Boutique

4:00pm|K2 Taphouse

Lighted Boat Parade

5:00pm|Swinomish Channel

Christmas Sing-Along

7:00pm|Christ Episcopal Church

Art Collaborations

7:00pm|Village Books

Fidalgo DanceWorks' Nutcracker

7:00pm|Brodniak Hall

Edward Albee Reading Series

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Skagit Valley Chorale's Christmas Journeys

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Kulshan Chorus Winter Concert

7:30pm|Bellingham High School

Silk Road Soiree

8:00pm|Presence Studio

MBT Tenors Andrew Subin
Tomorrow
Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Santa at Yeager's

4:00pm|Yeager's Toyland

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

The Happy Elf

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Learn a little, dance a little

9:15am

20th annual Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

Bellingham Folk Festival

4:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Santa Train

5:00pm|Miniature Fun Center

Pippi Longstocking

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Howard Miller Steelhead Park

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Winter Wonderland

10:00am|Children's Museum of Skagit County

Fidalgo DanceWorks' Nutcracker

7:00pm|Brodniak Hall

Skagit Valley Chorale's Christmas Journeys

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Supplies to Standing Rock

10:00am|Periwinkle Lane

Chorus Christmas

3:00pm|United Church of Ferndale

Greeting and Giving

3:00pm|Lummi Island Library

Nativity Dance

3:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Jack Straw Readings

4:00pm|Village Books

Holiday Special

5:00pm|St. John's Lutheran Church

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Northwest Ballet
Monday
Santa at Yeager's

4:00pm|Yeager's Toyland

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Gingerbread Houses

3:00pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Pilates for Skiers and Snowboarders

6:00pm|REI

Campbell Road

6:30pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Books on Tap

6:30pm|Tino's Pizza & Pasta Co.

The Little Mermaid Auditions

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Poetrynight

8:00pm| Bellingham Public Library

Guffawingham

9:30pm|Green Frog

see our complete calendar »

MBT Tenors Northwood Steak and Crab Artifacts Wine Bar Village Books Northwest Ballet Swinomish 2016 Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Andrew Subin