Artists in the revolution

Menna Taher, Thursday 26 Jan 2012

Numerous filmmakers, actors and artists have had a forefront role in Egypt's revolution, continuing to demand and defend basic freedoms

A large demonstration defending freedom of expression took place on 23 January 2012, the day of the parliament's first session (Photo: Rowan El-Shimi)

Filmmakers, actors and artists participated prominently in Egypt's revolutionary year.

Filmmakers not only took footage of the most brutal clashes, but were also leading members in some revolutionary movements and parties.

The actor Amr Waked is one of the founders of the National Front for Justice and Democracy, while the actor Khaled El-Sawy is one of the founders of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party.

Young actors like Waked, Basma, Khaled Abou El-Naga and Asser Yassin were also prominent faces in many of the revolutionary campaigns staged throughout the year, like the campaign against the military trial of protester Amr El-Beheiry and the campaign for the Revolution Continues electoral list.

The band Eskenderella, one of the most present bands in the revolution, also made a song for the Revolution Continues campaign.

Cinema Syndicate members have also been revolutionary, participating in a sit-in for weeks, trying to get rid of syndicate head Mossad Fouda, who was part of the Mubarak regime.

Fouda maintained his position after syndicate elections in July, beating famous filmmaker Aly Badrakhan.

On the first anniversary of the revolution, yesterday, thousands took the streets to demand the fall of SCAF (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) and the transferal of power to a civilian government.

Many artists took part in the protests and artistic endeavours were witnessed throughout the day.

The Egyptian actor Abdel Aziz Makhioun, one revolutionary artist, was seen on the podium in Tahrir Square chanting against military rule, while the actor Khaled El-Nabawy led the chants in one of the day's marches.

Ahram Online reporter Zeinab El-Guindy managed to speak to actress Fardous Abdel Hamid, who is enraged at military rule.

"We should not be celebrating today," she said. "The revolution has not achieved its goals yet; the martyrs didn't get retribution, the injured are still seeking treatment, and many civilians are still tried in military courts."

Hamdy El-Wazeer, who was a participant in the 18-day protests that led to Mubarak's ouster, was also present in Tahrir yesterday. El-Wazeer has written a film entitled Ayam El-Ghadab (The Days of Rage) and is currently casting for the production. The film probes the relation between State Security and Egyptian citizens and takes place during the 18-day uprising.

Another film in the making is by Youssry Nassrallah, entitled Reem, Mahmoud and Fatma, shedding light on the infamous "Battle of the Camel." Nasrallah was present in Tahrir throughout the revolution and made part of the film 18 Days, screened last year at Cannes.

The film, which constitutes 10 shorts by different filmmakers, was surrounded by controversy as two of the participating filmmakers contributed to the Mubarak presidential campaign in 2005.

Other than demanding the transition to civilian rule, artists are concentrating on expanding freedoms in the arts field. Many artists fear the Islamist majority in parliament will negatively impact on artistic freedoms.

One of the largest protests by artists since the beginning of the revolution took place on 23 January, during the first session of the newly-formed People's Assembly. The march, led by the Egyptian Creativity Front, emphasised the importance of freedom of expression.

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