Egypt: We're Watching You
A window into a world unavailable to most, Egypt: We're Watching You, is as much a depiction of a nation in jeopardy as one of a people actively pursuing progressive change. Documenting the 2005 Egyptian Parliamentary elections, the viewer gets a glimpse of the torrid corruption through the eyes of the people and the activists of Shayfeen.com.
Shayfeen.com is dedicated to sharing the true story of what is happening in the streets of Egypt to the Egyptian people and the outside world. They use a variety of multimedia (including this very film). Its main vehicle though is its website, which is used to disseminate information and share video clips of everything from election proceedings to political demonstrations.
Started by three women with experience in journalism and marketing, Shayfeen.com was envisioned as an alternative media source. The videographers document hours of waiting at the polls during the three-phase electoral process. Individuals share their frustration and lack of faith in the process freely with the camera. They understand the elections are rigged, but refuse to lose faith in their country. Over and over again a prideful-yet-worn populous is shown. It's not a new system they want, just an honest, democratically chosen regime.
Beyond the powerful first person accounts of voters and demonstrators, there is this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the activists' circle. One scene takes us to a meeting where people are discussing the decision for the group to continue, spurred by their lack of funds and potential need to shut their doors. The women, in turn, discuss their personal commitment not the organization, but to the cause—simply to build a better Egypt. There was no politicking or games, just people sharing their burdens and desires, or lack thereof. Such an honest picture of an activist, a caricature that rarely is seen to have multiple levels, was incredibly refreshing.
Running fifty-two minutes, it is a quick look at Egypt not seen on American television. Its honesty and tentative positivity is a sobering yet inspiring look at a nation in peril.