“The regime used to suffocate you in a lot of ways, but these past few weeks have awakened something that was dormant in a lot of Egyptian people. It’s going to be harder for any government to put that out.”

That’s a quote from Marwan Hamed, a Cairo-based filmmaker who spoke with The L.A. Times’ Steve Zeitchik on the heels of a massive revolution in Egypt that saw a de factor dictator out of office and the spectre of democracy on the horizon. The country has a long way to go, but it’s not far out of bounds to expect Egyptian filmmakers to start utilizing the freedom of speech and creative freedom that’s suddenly sprouted from Tahrir Square.

So what do you do when you move from having your voice stifled to being able to sing? It’s unclear, but the possibilities are overwhelmingly exciting.

The piece is a must-read, and it points out two fundamental factors:

  1. Current Egyptian film mostly consists of two companies making digestible comedy and vague dramas that have nothing to say about politics or real life.
  2. Countries like Germany and Romania had cultural revivals a decade or so after modern revolution, so Egypt has good models to follow.

Of course, what it doesn’t need to point out is that freedom will be the driving force of creativity now. Whereas the Mubarak regime censored filmic output to the point where people saw no reason to even attempt subversive material, the new government in Egypt has an opportunity to lay free speech at the doorsteps of prospective and current filmmakers who maybe didn’t even dare a month ago to think of what they could do with it.

I, for one, look forward to seeing some great movies come out of Egypt in the coming years.


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