Keynote: Berlin Social Media Week

“This year Social Media Week proudly presents four of the world’s leading social media activists, all from Africa and representing themes that touch our everyday lives no matter where we live or work: Slim Amamou – anti-censorship activist and one of the key leaders of the 2011 Tunisian revolution, Bisi Alimi – Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, blog writer and HIV/LGBT advocate, Japheth J. Omojuwa – Nigeria’s Foremost Political Blogger and Commentator as well as Heba Amin – Egyptian artist and scholar on Egypt’s unique Speak2Tweet project. Dora & Rico talk to Stephen Kovats who connected these powerfull speakers with SMWBerlin.”

Interview with Stephen Kovats about the speakers: download mp3

Keynote: Project Speak2Tweet

Presentation Profile here

Recording Against Regimes

Recording Against Regimes Exhibition 2013
Darb 1718 Contemporary Art & Culture Center, Cairo, Egypt
Video Art and Films generated by changes in Poland in the 1980s, Germany in the 1990s, and in Egypt now.

“Recorded images that are created as a personal or collective expression against political regimes during significant political changes are the counter-weight for those generated by the official media. They operate on many different levels. Recording the reality of life under oppressive regimes may be a matter of personal documentation or a deliberate attempt to communicate with the wider world. Articulation of the difference between official information and individual reality is an act of civil resistance against official propaganda. The documentary becomes a factor of change: the regimes have no more monopoly on information and thus lose control. The recorded document remains when the revolution is over and can often be interpreted not only by its content but also by the type of device used. On the more sophisticated level, video art and experimental cinema are continually using new approaches and forms of presentation. The viewer, shaken from accustomed visual habits, experiences new forms of perception and becomes more critical. The geo-political context, the tools and their accessibility to artists and to the large public, and the means of diffusion have obviously changed through time and space.

In Poland and Germany in the 1980s and the 1990s access to recording equipment was rare and access to distribution even more difficult. Very often, artists who did have access to a camera experimented with it naturally by focusing their lenses on the closest political and social realities. But twenty to thirty years later in Egypt, everyone could do it through personal devices and social platforms. Egyptian artists, filmmakers and ordinary witnesses of events have produced and are still producing thousands of gigabytes of footage that is becoming material for documentaries, short films, and videos. Many of them await usage.

Videos and films included in the exhibition are not considered so much as a genre but more as a means to investigate the changing role and influence of visual technology and the different ways the moving image and its perception can be expressions of resistance.”
more info >>

Interview with Egyptian television station Al Qahira

Interview with Egyptian television station Al Qahira

There are skyscrapers in Egypt

An excerpt of my film-in-progress “Voices from the Revolution” (working title) was screened at Mizna’s 7th Twin Cities Arab Film Fest on November 10, 2011 along with many other great Arab filmmakers at the beautiful historic Heights Theatre where, rumor has it, the crystal chandeliers reign from Egypt. Although initially hesitant to show a work still in progress, it was an opportunity to see what resonates with people.

miznafilmfest2
I HAD A HECKLER.

I had a heckler, and perhaps in my tired state it didn’t phase me as much as it could have, or perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my heckler would have preferred to see a tourism video, either way he livened the discussion. Bless him for being so emotionally disturbed by my footage, as he felt this was not the time nor place to show “negative” visuals of the country he loves so much. Nor did he think I had an “authentic” voice as on several occasions he and his friends questioned my identity (which is ironic given the topic that dominated a panel discussion I was part of just hours before).

“I AM ALSO FROM EGYPT, AND ALSO HATED MUBARAK, AND ALSO LOVE THE REVOLUTION.”

We are from Egypt, he said, and we hate Mubarak, and we love the Revolution! Where? Where do you come from? Where are these buildings? We have skyscrapers in Egypt!

His sentiment was clear, he felt I was somehow hijacking the revolution. He disliked my film and, I never thought I would say this but, I am so glad he did! While perhaps he misunderstood my intentions, he had a very strong reaction to the footage. And at the end of the day, any artist would wish for that.