By AYO ONIKOYI and Benjamin Njoku
The political struggle that claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in Egypt between 2011 and 2013 re-echoed Sunday night, when “The Square”, a documentary film exploring the country’s political history was screened to open this year’s Africa International Film Festival, AFRIFF, holding in Calabar, Cross River State.
The film, screened at the magnificent Cultural Centre, in the heart of Calabar drew a lot of applause, sympathy and condemnation that have continued to trail the fallen Mubarak-led government of dictatorship at end of the one and half -hour screening.
Screened immediately after the opening ceremony, the documentary titled The Square is an Egyptian production dedicated to the hundreds of innocent protesters who were brutally murdered during the recent revolutions that swept through the country, and also to those who have continued to fight for the freedom of the people.
Although the producer, Jehane Noujaim was unavoidably absent at the event, in his place, the director, Sheriff Awaad acknowledged the global recognition the documentary has received since it was produced last year, having gotten an Oscar nomination.
According to him, the documentary epitomizes the struggles of the new generation of Egyptian people and the transitions they’re going through presently.The film also projects the deep cravings of the people for peace, fairness and equality, and also promotes the concept of dialogue even in the face of the deepest conflicts of interests, opinions, religion, and beliefs.
Staged at Tahir Square in the center of Cairo, Egypt, the film takes its title from the final showdown that ousted the tyrannical regime of Hosni Mubarak which had held the average Egyptian in terror for over 30 years.
Lead character cum narrator is a youth known simply as Ahmed, who grew up witnessing the corruption and injustice all around him. He was very prominent at the forefront of the struggles and demonstrations.
Also with him was Egyptian superstar and icon, Khalid Abdalla (star of the movie The Kite Runner), who braved the dangers of being arrested, tortured and even assassinated by Mubarak’s secret police, to make the stand against tyranny and injustice.
February 12, 2011; Mubarak finally bowed to the pressure and stepped down. The joyful and deep emotional celebration of the Egyptian people at the announcement of his resignation cannot be described or quantified. However, the struggle was just beginning as the Egyptian military, and subsequently the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who took over power from Mubarak were just as corrupt and even more brutal than their predecessor.
In attendance during the screening on the night were the First Lady of Cross River State, Her Excellency, Obioma Imoke, Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, founder and AFRIFF ECO, Chioma Ude. Others were Nollywood superstars, producers, and directors including Tunde Kilani, Charles Novia, Andy Amenechi, Beverly Naya, Rita Dominic, Moses Ewang, Linda Ejiofor, Chika Chukwu, Kalu Ukeagwu, Gideon Okeke, Chelsea Eze, Mohmoud Ali-Balogun, among others.
The 4th season of AFRIFF is scheduled to run till Sunday, November 16, 2014, with daily sessions for filmmakers and screening of several other magnificent films that display and represent the spirit of Africa.