ETHBET! | Available from February 27 on Prime Video, the documentary by Matteo Ferrarini combines live footage with animations by Francesco Vecchi, recounting the stories of Shaimaa, Ali and Lofty, three revolutionaries who lived on the front line of the Tahrir Square protests ten years ago.
Lofty is still in Cairo and lives with the constant fear that his activism may harm the safety and security of his family but, despite everything, he continues the protest which began ten years ago. Shaimaa and Ali, accused of terrorism, live in exile in a country that does not belong to them, and they continue to wonder if and when they will be able to return home.
Despite the violent riots that shook Tahrir Square in 2011, the military regime of Al-Sisi has never stopped terrorising, perpetuating violence and torture, imprisoning civilians without reason and without due process. With reference to the current political situation in Egypt, the documentary also mentions the case of Patrick Zaki, who has been unjustifiably imprisoned by the regime on charges of subversive propaganda. It is now more than a year that he has been detained and that his rights have been denied through postponements of the trial.
“‘ETHBET!’ (Hang on!) is the cry that the Egyptian revolutionaries shouted repeatedly as encouragement when faced by the military and police in Tahrir Square in January 2011”, reads the press release, “Activists flee in order to continue their fight, having learned from the past how to avoid the telephone and internet surveillance that betrayed them. They flee so they can raise public worldwide awareness of the situation and so they can persuade foreign governments to promote freedom of expression and democracy even at the cost of their commercial interests.”
The stories of Shaimaa, Ali and Lofty converge into history and reveal the backstory of the rebels who risked their lives in Cairo back in January 2011. At the time Lofty was in his thirties while Shaimaa and Ali were just two teenagers.
Three different points of view, three stories trace a detailed picture of the events that shook their lives. The live footage alternates with illustrated animations in a constant flux between past and present, present and past. The intense memories of those days in Tahrir Square are illustrated by Francesco Vecchi who, through narrow shots and a strong graphic stylisation, tries to highlight – as much as possible – the suffering and differences in the experiences of the main characters.
“In 2021, while the global pandemic continues to attract all the attention of the moment, this documentary proposes to recount what’s left of the Nile Revolution, ten years after it all began. It hopes to regain some of the spotlight, to give voice to an entire generation repressed by military regime, and to support anyone who has the courage to challenge history in the name of a more just society” says director Matteo Ferrarini, author of The Last Cathedral (2017), Buracos(2012) and Jali Road (2011).
ETHBET! Produced by the Parma production company Small Boss together with Palacios Film and Agent Double, was made possible thanks to the support of the Emilia-Romagna Region, and will be available on Prime Video in Italy for a year.
For more information visit the Small Boss official website.
Translated by Ludovica Sarti