Coming to theatres (as part of the International Documentary Association’s Oscar-qualifying DocuWeeks) at NYC’s IFC Center this Friday, August 17 and at LA’s Laemmle NoHo 7 next Friday, August 24: WORDS OF WITNESS
Mai Iskander’s story of Egypt after Mubarak through the eyes of a young female journalist premiered this year at the Berlin Film Festival. Screenings since then have included DocAviv, Munich’s DocFest, Planete Doc Review, Los Angeles, and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
Beginning in the immediate aftermath of last year’s Egyptian Revolution, which saw the end of Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year reign, Iskander’s film profiles Heba, a modern thinking 22-year-old with a budding career writing for an English-language online newspaper, using her story to explore the growing uncertainty and frustrations after the euphoria of dramatic change begins to fade for Egypt’s citizens. The film is most compelling and human when Heba is in the forefront, attempting to balance the demands of her newfound career with her scene-stealing mother’s protectiveness and Egyptian society’s expectations of what women can and can’t do. Scenes showing Heba’s relationship with her mother, including the latter’s embrace of social media, provide much-needed lighter moments, while latter sections about the debate over Egypt’s elections sometimes push Heba a bit into the background as the film gets swept up in these larger issues. Ultimately, Iskander’s film documents essential history in the making, as a nation, and especially its young people like Heba, tastes democracy but faces disillusionment over the speed and possibility of true change.