BFI London, Just for Laughs, Bergen, Vancouver, DocPoint, Glasgow, Big Sky Doc, Stockholm, Salem, Human Rights Watch London and Toronto, Movies That Matter, Cleveland
A heart surgeon-turned-comedian tests the limits of free speech in post-Mubarak Egypt.
Emboldened by the social changes made possible in the Arab Spring, Dr Bassem Youssef began exploring his gift for comedy, first making humorous YouTube videos before being graduated to his own network television show. Al Bernameg – literally translated as The Show – was consciously modeled after Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, and quickly became a sensation, averaging a massive 30 million viewers at its most popular. Taksler, herself a producer on The Daily Show, follows Youssef as he tries to navigate the thorny realities of satire while facing the scrutiny and, soon enough, the displeasure of the new Egyptian government. Courting controversy and unwilling to kowtow to authority, Al Bernameg begins alienating pro-government fans, as well as cautious network heads, and potentially places Youssef and his staff in danger. Taksler immediately captures Youssef’s appeal, and cleverly makes use of animated sequences to fill in some background and convey the David vs Goliath aspects of Youssef’s efforts.