With art and entertainment taking all forms in Tahrir Square, it was only a matter of time before a film screen was constructed, screening revolutionary films and clips to a packed audience.
Protesters from the July 8 sit-in were delighted to find a screen set up by the construction site near Qasr El-Nil bridge on Tuesday night for Tahrir Cinema. Films were screened on 13 and 14 July with organisers planning to screen more every evening.
Hundreds gathered around to watch 16 two-minute movies shot during the first days of the revolution and produced by a range of people including experienced filmmakers and amateurs.
“We wanted to remind people of what they already achieved,” said filmmaker Omar Robert Hamilton, one of the people who organised the Tahrir Cinema. “It is a space for all the new voices that have come out of the revolution.”
Along with Hamilton, several artists, musicians and filmmakers, including actor Khalid Abdalla, collaborated on and gave birth to the idea.
They are also working with another group, Mossireen, that is putting together a citizen journalism collective – an archive of footage and material of the revolution – to be stored in a public place where anyone can access it, use it as welll as gain training on filmmaking techniques and how to use editing software.
The challenges they faced were not the usual ones related to security or authorisation. “Nobody needs permits in Tahrir anymore,” laughs Hamilton. Rather, it was manoeuvring the equipment and putting the pieces together, like constructing a screen out of wood and plastic.
It was worth the trouble. The audience reaction was great with many approaching the organisers to contribute and share their own videos and footage from the revolution.
Tahrir Cinema was up and running again on Wednesday 13 July. The audience, glued to the screen, reflected on how far we have come since the early days of the revolution.
Particular memories were engraved in their minds, and in some cases, their faces. “That was when I got this scar,” declares a member of the audience, pointing at his forehead proudly as he watched footage of the ‘Battle of the Camel’ on 2 February.
Following the positive reaction to the initiative, “we will try to do this every night,” confirmed Hamilton. As well footage of the uprising, Tahrir Cinema will showcase documentaries on issues pertinent to the revolution.