This evening, I saw the beginning of the doc 1/2 REVOLUTION about last year’s Tahrir Square uprising. I had to leave the theater to help with a minor medical emergency, but what I saw of the film looked inspiring and intense. Great for riot-porn junkies. In the first scenes, some of the first confrontations in the Square, people are being beaten back by riot cops, but chanting “No violence! No violence!” A short time later there was a scene where the word “Egypt” was written in English and Arabic in the blood of a slain protester spilled on the pavement.
I’ll try to see the whole film at the January 25th screening at—where else?—the Egyptian Theater in Park City. January 25th is the anniversary of the uprising. For any of us following events live on Twitter and watching on the livestreams from Tahrir, it seems like an eternity ago. So much has happened. For those who lived it in Egypt, the anticipation of what may happen on the 25th—celebration or more fighting—must be weighing on them.
Being on the theater team here in Park City at the Yarrow Hotel Theater, I got to spend a few minutes with the co-directors before the film. As if to emphasize the ongoing nature and immediacy of the struggle, one asked me to bring up the #Tahrir hashtag on Twitter on my iPhone to see what was happening there right now.
They hadn’t been aware of the solidarity march Egyptians had done to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo against police brutality in Oakland, nor of us in Occupy Oakland returning the favor with an Egypt solidarity march, but were stoked to hear of it. They felt strongly that there would be many more mutual solidarity actions and they want to do “flash screenings” of the film at Occupy sites this summer. I’ve got their contact info and will do what I can to connect them to the right people in the Bay Area to make that happen. When I tweeted that out, someone wrote back suggesting Grand Lake Theater in Oakland. That would be—will be—an awe-inspiring event.
Such protests can be said to be merely “symbolic,” but do have real effects. Like our ability to watch each others’ struggles on livestream, they give us a real sense that the world is watching, that whatever we’re doing, we’re not alone. The morale boost is enormous and invaluable.
Look for a moment at what happened here tonight between two randomly-meeting strangers. I was following the events of last year in Tahrir online while they were filming and living them. I later got involved in Occupy Oakland while continuing to watch events in Egypt on livestream and Twitter, often times live-tweeting Occupy Oakland actions while retweeting posts from Tahrir. We meet in Park City. I watch their film and they watch my phone for information. They want to show the film to Occupy and I can connect them to Oakland where they will make more personal connections, bringing Tahrir and Oakland even closer.
At some point, there will be more to this global, digitally-augmented solidarity, something that will have tangible, on-the-ground effects that will influence the direction, form and outcome of these struggles—whether Occupy or Tahrir. I don’t know what form it will take, but I expect that it will change everything if we’re ready to grasp the opportunity.
The world is different now and the change is only beginning.