The Egyptian/Danish documentary ‘1/2 Revolution’ will appear at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (19 January – 29 January 2012) in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.
1/2 Revolution, directed by the Danish/Palestinian Omar Shargawi and Egyptian/American Karim El-Hakim, is the first Egyptian film to be selected at the festival since it started.
The documentary captures a personal, intimate story from the Egyptian revolution. A group of friends living in downtown Cairo struggle to stay together during the first chaotic days of protests.
As the violence and uncertainty builds, Karim and his young family's apartment becomes an epicentre of activity as worried friends and neighbours flock together in a bid to survive the counter punches thrown by the police and armed gangs of pro-Mubarak thugs swarming the streets beneath their balcony.
The result is a compelling human story told from inside the revolution via a handheld camera, a spontaneous string of stolen moments that gives the viewer the ride of a lifetime.
Shargawi considers 1/2 Revolution "an extremely rich personal experience” that has changed him a lot on a human, personal and professional level.
“When it came to 1/2 Revolution we had to record what was happening despite the dangers we faced on a daily basis. Egypt is a country that I identify with, that's why I established a production company here, and I'm planning to direct another film in Cairo," he said.
Shargawi directed his first film in 2008, the feature film Go with Peace Jamil, which won the Tiger award at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2008. He is currently working on his second feature film, which he is going to shoot in the first half of 2012.
El-Hakim dealt with 1/2 Revolution as a call of duty. “I am a very privileged Egyptian,” he said. “I have an education, I know how to handle a camera well, and I speak a few languages. It became something we had to do, even though it was dangerous. And in a way it was also the adrenalin rush of being in this kind of protest and uprising,” he said.
El-Hakim contributed as a director of photography to numerous award-winning political documentaries about the Middle East, including My Trip To Al-Qaeda (2010), Giran (2009), and Egypt We are Watching You (2008). He was also a contributing editor on Control Room (2004).
In addition to his documentary work, El-Hakim was the director of photography on Al-Jame'a (The University), a 15 part Arabic drama series first shown on MBC4.
He is also active in the Cairo independent film community and has worked on a handful of award-winning Egyptian short films, including Ein El-Samaka (Fisheye), Miraculum, and Beit Min Lahm (House of Flesh), which earned him the Egyptian State Prize for Best Cinematography in 2006.
1/2 Revolution is a co-production between the Danish Globus Film and the Egyptian Prophecy Films, which was founded by Shargawi and El-Hakim in 2010.
The Middle East premiere of 1/2 Revolution is to take place during the 8th Dubai International Film Festival, in the Muhr Arab Documentary competition.