Ahmed Awad, undersecretary to the Minister of Culture and head of censorship, told The Associated Press that the film has not been banned in Egypt for any political reasons. He said it was not shown because the film’s producers did not file the proper paperwork. He called the filmmakers’ accusations of repression “propaganda” designed to attract more attention.
“I am very happy about the Oscars, because it’s a very high level of art,” Awad said. “We are not against the film, but there are laws. I can’t make exceptions.”
Noujaim said that the team submitted the film to censorship authorities in September and received verbal permission to show it at a festival. But, she explained, the film never received an official letter to that effect, and the filmmakers did not feel comfortable proceeding without a formal permit given the tense political climate. She said they are appealing and submitting additional paperwork.
Some Egyptians who have seen the film say it is designed more for educating a Western audience than interpreting the country’s recent history, that it glosses over some events and does not capture the nuance of post-revolutionary politics.
Joe Fahim, an Egyptian film curator and critic, said the film is not an artistic masterpiece, but he believes it’s an important film for Egyptian audiences because it can serve as a record of the country’s political upheaval.
“It’s a reminder of the turbulent history of the past three years,” Fahim said.
Noujaim, who last month received a Directors Guild documentary award for “The Square,” said the film is ultimately an ode to the activists who made the revolution happen.
“That’s the only thing that’s ever worked - a dedicated few that stick to their principles, stick to every battle, and once in a while, they’re able to inspire the majority,” she said.
Despite the setbacks, Amer added, what’s fundamentally changed in Egypt is that “the young Egyptian voice that’s been born in that square is unwilling to give up, and I think that’s what our film chronicles and shows.”
Lederer reported from the United Nations.