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How the Arab Spring changed cinema

Nevertheless, Tunisian filmmakers have managed to develop their industry by introducing new genres, technologies and ideas. Two main examples of invention and innovation that occur in the country’s cinema are “Dachra” by Abdelhamid Buchnak (2018) and “Tlamess” by Ala Eddin Slim (2019). Dachra is the first horror film in the country and has introduced the upcoming wave of genre cinema in the country, using horror tropes to criticize the dominance of religion, showing a new means of expression for filmmakers to circumvent censorship. Meanwhile, using a highly distinctive form of surrealism, Tlamess touches on militarism, attributing gender roles and existential experiences, while giving Arab cinema its first scene of complete frontal nudity.

Elsewhere, in Yemen, Libya and Syria, the main focus of filmmaking is on portraying the deteriorating conditions in those countries, as seen in various documentaries by directors living in exile, such as London-based Libyan director Naziha Arebi. Fields of Freedom ”(201

8); The Cave of the Syrian director in Copenhagen Feras Fayyad (2019); the colleague of the Syrian Wad Al-Kateab, co-director of “Sama”, documenting her exit from the war-torn homeland; and the Los Angeles-based Yemen: The Silent War by Sufi Abulohom (2018).

The future of Arab cinema

A decade later, the revolutionary energy of the Arab Spring is still in testimony, in life and on the big screen. The popular uprisings in Algeria and Lebanon in 2019 and 2020 have spawned images that capture stories similar to those of the early Arab Spring films, from a color portrait of Karim Ainuz’s Algerian revolutionary youth, Nardjes A. (2020), to several Lebanese the pipeline project, which could now be scrapped after an explosion in Beirut last summer, dashed hopes of a happy ending for protesters.

Meanwhile, a revolution took place in Sudan nine years after the start of the first wave of the Arab Spring, which also led to the rise of cinema in the country. However, as Sudanese directors reflect on the events, it is clear from their films that they have learned the valuable lesson that revolutions can fail at any moment and that the road to democracy is long and difficult. Two 2019 documentaries reveal the essence of a country on the brink of change, but still call into question the tangible possibility of extensive institutional overhaul. In Suhaib Gasmelbari’s Speaking of the Trees, a group of veteran directors try to resurrect an old cinema outside Khartoum, only to face a suffocating bureaucracy that is not expected to dissolve in the near future. The same repressive rules are facing a group of athletes seeking to bring together Marva Zane’s first women’s soccer team in Khartoum Offside, who stressed that the country’s predominant patriarchate will continue to challenge reform efforts.

As for the original uprisings? The legacy and consequences of the Arab Spring continue to haunt cinema in the region, and full details of what happened in 2010 and the years to come are yet to be told. The most popular hits about the uprisings – The Square by Jehane Noujaim (2013) from Egypt; the aforementioned beauty and dogs from Tunisia; countless Syrian documentaries – offer clear, digestible stories, serving largely Western audiences unaware of the nuances and complexity of the region and its history. And because almost all independent Arab films rely on European capital for funding, productions are usually shaped by what the West expects the Arab world to be, and are ultimately appreciated by Western critics with little or no knowledge of the region.

The rise of Sudanese cinema and the remarkable evolution of Tunisian films will ensure that the spirit of the Arab Spring is preserved on the big screen. The true story of the rise and fall of the Arab uprisings, on the other hand, is still waiting to be told.

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