In a country where society considers itself the guardian of the forbidden, it is easy to find one’s self feeling trapped. Pursuing the theme in a 67-minute documentary, filmmaker Amal Ramsis explores all that is forbidden in Egypt.
The film was shown on Sunday at the Gezira Art Centre. The screening was part of the centre’s program “Man and Woman in Cinema”. The film was shot five months before the revolution, and on 25 January 2011, Ramsis was finishing the editing of the documentary.
Before the screening starts, Ramsis told the audience: “This film is not about the revolution, because a lot of people think that it is, but it is not.” The film explores the idea of society as both the inhibitor and facilitator of the forbidden. It handles the contradiction between everything being off limits and people doing what they please.
Ramsis explained how she got the idea of the movie: “Six months before the revolution, I and many people noticed that everything is forbidden. It has become a big problem. ”
Ramsis interviews several people, ranging from the filmmaker Arab Lotfy to activists such as Nawara Negm to a housekeeper called Sama, who participated in demonstrations. Through the interviews, the audience unravels all that is forbidden, ranging from the participation of women in the community to holding hands with loved ones.
Books and films are also discussed; Lotfy explains that some of her movies have been banned for over 15 years. Ramsis juxtaposes Lotfy speaking about her banned films with scenes from movies that were permitted at the time.
The scenes feature belly dancing and obnoxious, meaningless songs. Ramsis wanted to show how the regime was allowing meaningless culture, but banning anything of substance; their way of preventing people from realising their own reality.
The idea of the citizen as informer is also discussed in the movie; Lotfy mentions that it is the printers that are usually the ones who report books to censor. In addition, the film discusses public judgement of others’ behaviours. In the film Ramsis portrays the way the government has treated the people as causing a self-governing community that borders on self-hate.
(Thoraia Abou Bakr/Daily news Egypt)