Months before the momentous uprising in Egypt, many talked of a revolution – but no one knew when that day would come.
What we see in the 75 minute film are the highs and lows of the passionate leaders who toiled for years before seeing success from their sacrifice. It is an account of their struggle against extraordinary odds to remove an uncompromising authoritarian regime determined to stay in power.
"We Are Egypt" is the story behind the story of the Arab Spring.
This documentary goes beyond the headlines and highlights years of mounting political resentment against the ruling regime. The film follows the efforts of democracy activists and the political opposition as they used Facebook and Twitter to organize and express themselves in increasingly outspoken ways, even at great personal risk.
RESPONSE TO THE FILM
When Mubarak was ousted in early 2011, filmmaker Lillie Paquette began receiving invitations from universities across the US to screen a draft of the film, which has gained wide acclaim as the "backstory" to the Egyptian Revolution.
"To most of the world, the protests in Egypt looked like a spontaneous uprising. But according to filmmaker Lillie Paquette, it was actually the culmination of years of methodical organizing. We meet her and get a behind-the-scenes view of the buildup to a revolution." -- The Current, CBC
The film has been screened, in some cases multiple times at various universities including: George Washington, NYU, Columbia, Harvard, Northeastern, Tufts, Yale, Stanford, Virginia Tech, UMASS Lowell, and Georgetown. It has also been screened at various community centers and at the 2011 Boston Palestine Film Festival.
Audience response and participation has been outstanding, and Paquette has reworked the draft to include valuable suggestions for improvement and understanding by students, professors, filmmakers, authors, activists, journalists, and policy-makers.
"Not only has Paquette interviewed practically everybody who matters (no small feat), she does so in a way that communicates their personalities, their hopes, and their not insignificant senses of humor. ... 'We Are Egypt' is not just a film about the raw materials of revolution, it is a film about the soul of a long suffering country yearning to throw off the yoke of an aging autocrat and take its place among democratic nations." -- Professor Tarek Masoud, Harvard University
A CALL FOR FUNDING
Paquette is now seeking financial contributions for post-production and distribution from individuals who have watched and shared their suggestions, as well as from others who look forward to seeing this film out there for a wider audience.
The plan is to make "We are Egypt" ready for global distribution by mid-January 2012 in order to help mark the one-year anniversary since the Egyptian Revolution, which began on January 25, 2011.
The timing of this film's release is important for Egyptians and global communities alike.
For Egyptian citizens striving to rebuild their country and keep the Revolution alive, "We are Egypt" will help remind them of the steps that brought them to where they are now, which may serve as an encouragement to keep forging ahead in facing and overcoming new challenges on their path to democratic reform in Egypt.
The film will also be valuable for global communities who watched the Egyptian Revolution unfold in the news with bated breath. It will show how the events in January and February 2011 came as a result of years of activism and struggle against the regime.
The story also explores the history of U.S.-Egypt relations and why the U.S. has provided more than 30 years of political, economic, and military support to the dictatorship. It examines the more recent U.S. democracy promotion agenda for the Middle East, and addresses what the implications for the undergoing political changes in Egypt are for U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East region.
"We are Egypt" is a valuable history piece, and will be especially significant as communities worldwide join Egyptian citizens in celebrating the first anniversary since the toppling of their dictator and the ensuing "Arab Spring."
This film is a reminder of the immense struggle that led to these moments in history. It is a reminder of the challenges still facing Egyptian people today.
THE VOICES OF EGYPT
This film provides a wide range of voices from many walks of life in Egypt.
A partial list of the specialists and activists interviewed include (in alphabetical order):
Esraa Abdel Fattah - Media coordinator for Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA)
Kamal Abu Eita - Leader of the only truly independent labor union in Egypt—the Real Estate Tax Authority Union
Moshira Ahmed - High Council for Al Ghad Party
Ashraf Balba - Activist in the reform faction of the historic opposition Wafd party
Mustapha Basyouni - Journalist and labor activist
Muhammad Beltagi - Prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood
Noam Chomsky - Professor of linguistics at MIT and long-time critic of US foreign policy
Michele Dunne - Former US State Department official and leading Egypt specialist at Carnegie National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC
Muhammad Ghebha - Student activists and young member of the Muslim Brotherhood
Saad Edin Ibrahim - Professor of Sociology at American University in Cairo and prominent democracy activist
Ali Eldin Hilal - Lead spokesperson for the formerly ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)
Gamal Eid - Human rights lawyer and director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Bassam Fathy - Projects director, Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA)
Hisham Foad - Journalist for the Arabi Nassrist Party weekly
Gigi Ibrahim - Student and activist
George Ishak - Founding member of Kifaya (“Enough”) democracy movement
Gamila Ismail - Prominent democracy activist and politician
Bothaina Kamel - Prominent activist, resigned as news anchor for Egyptian State TV, current presidential candidate
Hisham Kessam - Independent journalist and human rights researcher
Leith Kubba - Director of the Middle East Division at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC
Stephen McInerney - Executive Director, POMED (Project on Middle East Democracy)
Ahmed Meher - Leader of the April 6 Youth Movement
Heba Morayef - Researcher at Human Rights Watch in Egypt
Wael Nawara - Member of Al Ghad opposition party
Ayman Nour - Former political prisoner and presidential candidate in 2005 and leader of the Al Ghad opposition party
Noor Ayman Nour, student, musician and activist
Salma Roshdi - Anwar Sadat Foundation
Nawal Saadawi - Prominent Egyptian author, feminist intellectual and political activist
Anwar Sadat - Leader of the opposition Reform and Development Party and nephew of the late Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat
Ahmed Seif - Human rights lawyer and founder of the Hisham Mubarak Center
Omar Sharif - Prominent Egyptian Hollywood actor
Jack Shenker - Egypt correspondent for The Guardian of London
Shadi Taha - Deputy Chairman for Al Ghad Party
Abdel Rahman Yousif - Poet and organizer for the Mohammed Al Baradei Campaign
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