CINEMA

Oscar hope of Egyptian film The Square despite being barred by censors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 9:23pm
AP

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Directors of Egypt's first Oscar-nominated film will be walking the red carpet at the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles tomorrow, but most Egyptians have yet to see the hard-hitting movie that chronicles the country's unrest over the past three years.

Far from being widely celebrated in Egypt, The Square has not been shown at Egyptian film festivals or cinemas after problems with censorship authorities.

The filmmakers say they have been blocked because of their portrayal of the country's military-backed governments. They still hope to get approval for wider distribution.

"It's a kind of politics disguised in bureaucracy," said Karim Amer, the film's producer, taking a line that one of the film's central characters uses to describe the government's counter-revolutionary actions.

The Square, named for Tahrir, or Liberty Square, is built around the geographic focal point of the uprising, where millions of Egyptians gathered to protest Hosni Mubarak's regime, the rule of the generals who succeeded him and now-deposed Islamist President Mohammed Mursi.

It recounts the country's recent turmoil, beginning when Mubarak stepped down in 2011 through to August last year, right before security forces stormed two protest camps of Mursi supporters, killing hundreds.

The filmmakers tell the story through the eyes of three protesters from different backgrounds.

The movie follows them through hope and exuberance to disappointment and disillusion.

In Egypt, it is available only through YouTube and illegal downloads. After the academy announced the Oscar nominations, the film was hacked and released on the internet.

Amer estimates that more than 1.5 million people have watched it online.