10 Essential docs about the Arab Spring

Wednesday 10 May, 2017

In THE WAR SHOW Syrian radio host Obaidah Zytoon documents the experiences of herself and her friends as their dreams of hope and liberation in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring give way to the grim realities of repression, destruction and extremism.

The film won at Venice Days where the jury saidWe were immediately struck by the political and social significance and urgency of the film, while also appreciating its daring and innovative approach to filmmaking.”

The War Show screens daily at the Bertha DocHouse from Friday 12th May. You can watch the trailer and book your tickets: HERE 

Ahead of the film’s release the DocHouse team picked some other essential films documenting life in the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring.

City of Ghosts

Matthew Heineman / 2017

Coming to the DocHouse in July!

A real-life international thriller, City of Ghosts follows the journey of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently”—a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.  Winner of the Candescent Award at Sundance Film Festival 2017.

Visit the film website: HERE

No More Fear

Mourad Ben Cheikh/ 2011

The very first film about the Arab Spring premiered at Cannes Film Festival 2011 and is a passionate, raw and immediate compilation that brings together news footage of demonstrations with key players in the Tunisian revolution.

Watch the trailer: HERE

Tickling Giants

Sara Taksler / 2016

Screened at the DocHouse in January 2017 as part of our DocHouse First Strand!

Heart surgeon-turned-comedian Bassem Youssef became known as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart” after his satirical TV show became a nationwide hit. At great personal risk, Youssef took on successive oppressive regimes during the turbulent Arab Spring.

Watch the trailer: HERE  

Visit the film website: HERE 

Now streaming on Netflix

The Square

Jehane Noujaim / 2013

Capturing the immediacy and intensity of the Egyptian revolution, The Square provides a street-level account of the Tahrir Square uprising in Cairo in February 2011 as experienced by those who lived it.  Winner of the Audience Award for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival 2013.  

Watch the trailer: HERE  

Visit the film website: HERE  

Now streaming on Netflix

We are the Giant

Greg Barker / 2014

Through the prism of a handful of first-hand participants in Libya, Syria and Bahrain, Greg Barker gives the abstract and complex subject of the Arab Spring a human face.

Watch the trailer: HERE  

Visit the film website: HERE 

Return to Homs

Talal Derki  / 2013

War turns 19-year-old Abdul Basset Saroot from star goalkeeper for the Syrian national football team to peaceful advocate for Arab Spring reforms to armed insurgent. Winner of World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance Film Festival 2014, Return to Homs is a heart-stopping study of the brutal war President Bashar al-Assad's regime has waged against the Syrian people. 

Watch the trailer: HERE 

Visit the film website: HERE  

Cairo Drive

Sherief Elkatsha / 2013

Amid a cacophony of car horns and cursing, the manic streets of Cairo are where Egyptians vent their frustrations and air their hopes and joys. With a cast of drivers as diverse as the city’s population, Cairo Drive reveals the tumult of the city in the days leading up to the Egyptian Revolution and captures the voices of a people who are unsure what the next turn in the road has in store for them.

Watch the trailer: HERE

Visit the film website: HERE  

The Uprising

Peter Snowden / 2014

Made up entirely of videos made by citizens and long-term residents of Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen, The Uprising shows us the Arab revolutions from the inside.

Watch the trailer: HERE  

Visit the film website: HERE 

#chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator

Joe Piscatella / 2013

From her childhood bedroom in the Chicago suburbs, an American teenager uses social media to coordinate the revolution in Syria. Armed with Facebook, Twitter, Skype and camera phones, she helps her social network on the ground in Syria brave snipers and shelling in the streets to show the world the human rights atrocities of a dictator.

Watch the trailer: HERE  

Visit the film website: HERE 

Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark

May Ying Welsh / 2011

February 2011 and the Arab Spring is in full swing. International TV cameras are focused on events in Cairo and Tunis but out of sight, in Bahrain, another uprising is underway. Foreign journalists are banned from this island kingdom, but unknown to the ruling Khalifa family, one undercover crew is capturing the horrific carnage of a revolution forgotten by the world.

Watch the trailer: HERE

Available to stream on the Al Jazeera YouTube channel