02nd Dec2014

‘We Are The Giant’ Review

by Nicky Johnson

we-are-the-giant

Director Greg Hunt (Manhunt) premiered this harrowing documentary surrounding different parts of the Arab Spring at Sundance this year to a largely positive reaction and it’s obvious to see why. The film follows three groups of people fighting against three different regimes in their own way: Muhannad (sadly passed away) and Osama from Libya, Ghassan and Motaz in Syria, and Maryam and Zainab in Bahrain. Interviews with the individuals are intercut with quotes from such revolutionaries as Mandela and Che Guevarra, as well as gritty on the ground footage from each area and news clips showing the violence and devastation in each country and the international reaction to it.

This is definitely not the faint-hearted as you might expect with footage from the Arab Springs protests. One particular scene involved a girl singing about peace with a smile on her face before what looks to be a car bomb goes off in the road next to her. There’s also scenes of police and security forces shooting at protestors, of tanks firing on civilian buildings, and people dying or in pain. It’s a tough watch but it’s definitely one that’s earned the label as an ‘important’ film.

The film highlights just how serious the problems in the Middle East are, but also the different reactions to similar plights. With American born Muhannad in his family homeland Libya, peaceful protests gave way to violence in response to a brutal war on its own people. Ghassan and Motaz found each other on the internet and organised several protests and in Syria. Maryam and Zainab are two sisters whose family lived in exile in Denmark until pardoned, and have since fought for change in their own way: Zainab, inside the country by protesting despite being arrested over and over; and Maryam, by travelling the world and spreading the message of the violence.

Again, this is a tough watch, but besides its importance it is really well shot and put together. The message it carries isn’t the only reason to watch this documentary. It’s genuinely interesting and engaging to the point where it draws a genuine emotional reaction. It makes you think, it makes you want to learn more and it informs you enough to be able to figure out where to look next. If you’re in any way interested in the developments this is a film you need to watch. If not, this is still a film you need to watch.

***** 5/5

We Are The Giant is out now on DVD from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

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