Voices from the revolution [working title]
On January 27th, 2011 Egyptian authorities succeeded in shutting down the country's international Internet access points in response to growing protests. Over one weekend, a group of programmers developed a platform called Speak2Tweet that would allow Egyptians to post their breaking news on Twitter via voicemail despite internet cuts. The result was thousands of heartfelt messages from Egyptians recording their emotions by phone.
This experimental film presents selected Speak2Tweet messages prior to the fall of the Mubarak regime on February 11, 2011 and juxtaposes them with the abandoned structures that represented the long-lasting effects of a corrupt dictatorship.
I have spent many years wandering, exploring, and documenting abandoned and deteriorated architecturein Cairo. My fascination with these structures lies not only in their particular aesthetic and the memories they hold but also in the reality that they represent. As I walk through numerous such spaces, I visibly see the physical and psychological effects Egyptians have experienced for a long time; inhabitants of Cairo are confronted with static spaces frozen in an undefined realm that have, undoubtedly, affected their overall well-being. The lack of regard for architecture and infrastructure has confused the Egyptian identity, however, in the wake of recent events Egyptians are, for the first time, reclaiming their identity by reclaiming their built environment. The sudden change in attitude prompted, for me, an interest in investigating the connection between emotional states and urban surroundings through the project: Voices from the Revolution.
The January 25th Revolution in Egypt has spurred a debate over whether or not Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can claim credit for the uprising. Doubts over the uprisingʼs occurrence without these tools have been raised. However, this debate seems irrelevant given the obvious fact that these tools played a significant role, not only in spreading information at an uncontrollable speed, but also in providing Egyptians a voice they never had. The world had front row seats and the opportunity to engage in revolution regardless of nationality and geographic location.
I was particularly intrigued by the speak2Tweet platform because it achieved something entirely different from the tools preceding it. It reached out to people all over the country, not only the expected demographic of young, tech-savvy revolutionaries. Egyptians were using it more to vent their fears, express their hope, recite poetry, sing love songs, and express concern for their country. An accumulation of emotionally moving recordings preserved the moments of the fragile emotional state of the Egyptian psyche. As an Egyptian abroad during the revolution, I obsessively listened to the voicemails as they were being posted. They had such an emotional impact on me that I felt the need to share them. This project attempts to raise attention to the moving messages buried amidst the Internet noise of revolution-related activity.
An early version of the project has already been featured at:
Twin Cities Arab Film Festival, Twin Cities (Minnesota), November 2011
Arab Film Festival, Berlin November 2011
Pixxelpoint, Ljubljana December 2011
Open Systems, Vienna January 2012
Rhizome "The Download", 2012
Re:Publica conference, Berlin May 2012
exUrban Screens, Melbourne June-July 2012
Letters From the Field, Atelierhof Kreuzberg, Berlin August 2012
Critical Information conference, NY December 2012
The film will be completed in 2013.
Status: in financing
We managed to raise a little under $2000 with our IndieGoGo campaign! An excellent start. But we still need funding to get the basic equipment we need to get started (film, cameras, lighting, props, etc.) If you're inclined to help out, I've added a Paypal contribution option on the site. Also, our production company, Tourist with a Typewriter, is supported by Creative Visions Foundations, a US non-profit 501(c)(3) which promotes the use of media and the arts to create positive change in the world. All US donations are tax deductible. If you are interested in supporting the project with $500 or more please contact me for more information on donating through Creative Visions Foundations.
Egyptian company Al-Ismaelia has very generously offered access to film in several historic locations in Downtown Cairo rarely visited by the public. Al-Ismaelia aims to revive Downtown Cairo as a destination for all Egyptians to live, work, shop and socialise. //
//WHO WE ARE//
Heba Amin: Artist, Director
Heba Amin is an Egyptian artist whose work seeks to map collective memory as it relates to the built environment. Her theoretical and studio-based work addresses themes related to urban planning, mapping, migration/immigration and language as an aesthetic database to explore junctures, failures, and flawed memory.
Amin has taught at the University of Minnesota, the American University in Cairo, and the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft in Berlin. She is a 2009 Rhizome Commissions grant recipient and a 2010 Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) scholar. She has exhibited her work internationally and has attended several workshops and residencies in Europe. Amin currently resides in Berlin. More information about her work can be found at www.hebaamin.com.
Saeed Taji Farouky: Executive Producer
Saeed Taji Farouky is an award-winning Palestinian/British documentary filmmaker and co-founder and Director of documentary production company Tourist With A Typewriter. Saeed's work focuses on issues of human rights and social justice, often in the Middle East and North Africa.
Farouky is a 2011 Senior TED Fellow, was named Artist-in-Residence at Tate Britain 2009/2010 and Artist-in-Residence at the British Museum 2007 & 2009. His latest feature documentary The Runner is backed by the Irish Film Board and the Arab Fund For Arts And Culture and is an Irish/Norwegian/French co-production. It will be theatrically released internationally in 2012.
Marc Fantini: Sound Artist
Marc Fantini was born in Switzerland where he studied classical percussion at the conservatory and contemporary drumming in Ecole de Jazz et de Musiques Actuelles (EJMA) in Lausanne. He is a current member of the band Monno and also collaborates with other experimental performers, musicians and dancers like Contact Gonzo, Soichiro Mitsuya, and Joke Lanz. He tries to create a synthesis between the tribal aspect of drumming and the technological side of computer composition and improvisation in order to create new and relevant atmospheric soundscapes. Fantini currently lives in Berlin.