My brother and I went through the journey of making the film Clash (2016) together. Like millions of people, we were part of the Egyptian Revolution. My brother had the idea of having different people from different backgrounds and points-of-view all together in the back of a police riot van. We spent a year and a half writing the script, we wrote it thirteen times until we got it right. It was a challenge to write the script in a way that respected everyone's point of view, and artistically it was very hard to write a film set entirely in one location.
Around the world, Clash has been received as a film about humanity and cultures, there was no misunderstanding about that. Fifteen minutes into the film, it is easy to forget that you are watching an Egyptian story. The story about struggle, conflict and coexistence, is a universal one.
For Egyptians the wounds from the events depicted in the film [the protests during the presidency of Mohamed Morsi] are still fresh. Imagine making a film about World War II that humanizes the Germans and the British. Both sides would be annoyed by that. Such was the reaction in Egypt with Clash. Many people in Egypt had no dispute about how we portrayed their side in the situation, but did with the way we portrayed 'the other'. Humanising 'the other' in times of conflict when the wounds are still fresh can be controversial, but that was my intention. I did not want to make this film in ten years' time when the issues have moved on and become a contemplation of a memory. I wanted to make it right now, when it could save someone's life.
Cinema is a unique art form which allows the spectator the chance to be in someone else's head, to live their life through their eyes. It is an experience like no other. If you really take cinema seriously, it is a transcendent experience that really could change someone's point-of-view. And so cinema is the best way of communicating experience to someone with a different point of view, and eventually we hope it can make people less judgmental.
I had this experience on both of the films I made. Cairo 678 (2010) lead to a change in Egyptian laws on sexual harassment. And now, Clash has created a flash moment in Egypt raising issues once again to the people of the country. I really believe that a film can bring about change and that cinema is one of the important things in the world.
Clash (excerpt): 'Journalists are arrested'
1 min 28 secs
Clash (excerpt): 'Protest outside'
Clash (excerpt): 'The Water Cannon'
1 mins 42 secs
Clash (excerpt): 'Kids in the van'
Clash (excerpt): 'Water sharing'
1 mins 09 secs