The uprisings categorized as the “Arab Spring” were not spontaneous events. To make them seem so is to marginalize the lineage of activism that brought them into being. Within cinema, this decades-long struggle has been invigorated by militant manifesto writing, collective film production, and the development of viewing communities dedicated to Third World liberation, often infrastructurally supported by now vanquished nationalized post- and anticolonial institutions. Barra fi al-Shari‘/Out on the Street (Jamina Metwaly and Philip Rizk, 2015) catalyzes many of these revolutionary histories. Drawing on archival and shared footage dedicated to fighting for workers’ rights, the film’s communally conceived plot pivots around a factory takeover. The narrative is carried by contributors whom the filmmakers call “en-actors.” These en-actors both restage the violence exerted upon them by managers and the police and exemplify how cinema can become a form of training–for those on screen and in the audience–for future revolutionary action.
Be Wary of Anniversaries: Inside the Archive, Out on the Street
Kay Dickinson works in the University of Glasgow Film and Television department. She is the author of Arab Cinema Travels: Transnational Syria, Palestine, Dubai and Beyond (BFI Publishing, 2016) and Arab Film and Video Manifestos: Forty-Five Years of the Moving Image Amid Revolution (Palgrave, 2018).
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Kay Dickinson; Be Wary of Anniversaries: Inside the Archive, Out on the Street. Film Quarterly 1 December 2021; 75 (2): 40–48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2021.75.2.40
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