Peter Snowdon / Belgium/UK / 2013 / 79 mins
One of the tragic yet rewarding paradoxes of the Arab Spring is that it’s given a generation of activists the ability to become filmmakers, or at the least the chance to inspire numerous documentaries around the world. Last year, the genre went mainstream after Jehane Noujaim’s heart-racing The Square was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar: telling of how this revolution was not merely a “digital revolution” that social media had assisted in, but a permanent state of activism and education.
Peter Snowdon’s new doc The Uprising pulls together online amateur footage from the pan-Arab nations that took to the streets from 2010 onwards. It attempts to create a visual melee of unification through demonstration: splicing raw street-level material with self-shot interviews. The images are still as urgent and emotive as first witnessed four years ago, but it’s hard to see how Snowdon’s film tells us anything new. The larger conversation is around how the people have argued among themselves and now seek to solve the problem of democratic self-governance, co-religion and poverty. Noujaim’s dialogue in The Square touches on these issues, and filmmakers such as Karim El Hakim, Omar Shargawi and Elyes Baccar have documented the revolutions at far greater depths, so The Uprising just feels behind the curve in an otherwise prompt reminder.