From the earliest days of Egypt’s uprising in 2011, director Jehane Noujaim, producer Karim Amer and their team shouldered cameras on the streets of Cairo as a revolution unfolded. The famous “18 days” — centered on central Cairo’s Tahrir Square — led to the downfall of a dictator, Hosni Mubarak. They were days of elation and terror, promise and peril, and above all, there was a newfound sense of agency for Egyptians long-stripped of their human and political rights; many were finding them for the first time.
But those days were just the beginning. The ensuing two-and-a-half years, chronicled in the film “The Square” were — and are — much more complicated. Military government was supplanted by elected, Islamist governance by the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi. Morsi was, in turn, deposed — like Mubarak — by the military in July. Now, the leader of the Armed Forces General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is the country’s preeminent, un-elected leader. But it is likely he will try to remove that undemocratic moniker by running for president later this year.
PBS NewsHour chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner sat down with Noujaim and Amer, whose film is nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature. They discuss the project, the hopes of the people in it and their wishes for the ancient land they know so well.