I’m excited to announce that Alisa Lebow’s interactive meta-documentary Filming Revolution has been released and available for everyone to explore online. Alisa had interviewed 30 filmmakers, archivists, activists – people who are all interested in and invested in documenting the ongoing revolution and activities in Egypt. I met Alisa in December 2013 when we had conducted my interview about our project 18DaysInEgypt, a participatory documentary project on the on-going Egyptian revolution. It’s strange to watch my thoughts frozen in a moment in time that feels so distant to me now. I would answer many of those same questions very differently today. I approached the interview academically instead of reacting to the actual state of affairs. As I am more removed now, due to living abroad, it is easier for me to vocalize all these emotions I have in response to Egypt, documentary-making, archiving and my own small role in this dynamic web of nodes.
And this web of nodes is the entry point to Alisa’s interactive documentary. Each one of us and our thoughts are represented as a network of themes. As you click on a character, you can further explore our clips organized by those themes. You can explore my node here and the always eloquent and thoughtful Khalid Abdalla is wonderful to watch. But please take your time and explore the diversity in voices.
I remember very vividly how the end of 2013 was a dark and odd time in Egypt. The oppressive three month state of emergency and curfew had just been lifted, which were in place since August 14th of that year following the army-led massacre of the Rabaa protestors that killed 1,000 people in one day and that led to the largest polarization of a country I’ve ever experienced in my life.
It was a very hard time on all of us, we were a minority within what was becoming an unrecognizable fascist state; and watching these interviews today, I can see the heaviness in our eyes and in our words.
All of us wanted to give a part of ourselves, to contribute. We were all attempting to document, capture and create work that attempted to give justice to the narrative of the Egyptian Revolution – from those first 18 days in Tahir, to the numerous army and police abuses during the power vacuum after Mubarak stepped down, to the tumultuous rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the rise of Sisi and his cult of personality (when this meta-doc was being filmed).
Watching these interviews today makes me proud of my peers and all the hard work, creativity and intelligence that exists in this brilliant community – low in spirit at this moment of time, but definitely not broken. And due to the beauty of interactive new media documentary (as we learned with 18DaysinEgypt), these projects are never finished, they are not bound by time, framework or rules. They can evolve, grow and respond to the shifts in history. And my hope is that one day Alisa will have to revisit the project and capture a brighter, higher point in Egyptian history-in-the-making.