Director: Ibrahim El-Batout
Cast: Moataz Mosallam, Amr Waked, Salah Hanafy, Farah Youssef
96min Drama Arabic with English subtitles
Portraying the painful personal stories behind the events leading up to The Arab Spring, Ibrahim El-Batout’s quietly elegant and surprisingly intimate fourth feature has considerable charm and visual allure.
Taking the lives of three men from different sectors of Egyptian society he paints an authentic portrait of modern Cairo in a time of political and social turmoil on the eve of the January 25th Revolution. Amr watches youtube footage of torture inflicted on citizens by the state police and is reminded of the suffering he endured in similar circumstances recently. The focus switches to Adel, who was responsible for some of this torture in his role as chief of the Secret Police. But it’s when TV show host Farah enters the picture that we discover that the purported ‘truth’ that he is forced by his bosses to dole in his public broadcasts is quite different from the reality.
Almost poetic in feel, El-Batout’s unique brand of storytelling is sombre and engaging, creating a palpable sense of time and place. With some exquisite art house visuals and well-crafted performances; although at times Farah is unconvincing in his bid to convey the real moral inquietude key to his character. And although this feature comes a little late to the ‘party’ to be of current political relevance, it nevertheless captures the zeitgeist and stands as a powerful and significant insight into the Arab Spring. MT
THE WINTER OF DISCONTENT IS ON RELEASE IN SELECTED CINEMAS FROM 23 AUGUST 2013