As Egyptians are one month away from their country’s first attempt at democratic presidential elections, Professor Alan Henrikson from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University recommends “We are Egypt” for anyone looking to better understand the complex story unfolding in Egypt today. Have you seen the film yet? Are you following the unfolding events through the news, or perhaps on the ground experiencing them first hand? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Review by Professor Alan Henrikson
The Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University – April 19, 2012
“We are Egypt” by independent filmmaker Lillie Paquette is a wonderful accomplishment. It is a timely as well as very personal film based on the informal interactions of the producer with young Egyptian democracy activists filmed before the January/February 2011 uprising. The film duly respects the enormous complexity of dynamic social, economic, and political realities in Egyptian society. It also explores the role of U.S. policy — including the massive U.S. support for the Egyptian military over recent decades. However, it does not oversimplify the policy problems for the U.S. that are presented by the shifting political changes in the country and region, nor does it get preoccupied with the issue of balancing U.S. interests and values. Instead the film stays focused on the views of Egyptians seeking political change, and shows clearly how Egypt’s current history is in the hands of the people themselves. “We are Egypt,” indeed.
Paquette effectively suggests the larger picture by including short excerpts from television news for context where necessary. The inclusion towards the end of the film of former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, now a (secular) presidential candidate, announcing Mubarak’s decision to step down as president after the 18-day uprising on February 11, 2011, makes the film especially timely in the lead up to Egypt’s first attempt at democratic presidential elections. Paquette has solidly framed the basic situation, so that whatever happens, within this frame, will be partly explained by it, even if not in full/future narrative detail. “We are Egypt” offers an important contribution for viewers seeking a better understanding of the dramatic changes that continue to unfold in Egypt today.