Oscar-nominated Egyptian documentary ‘The Square’ can’t be seen in Egypt

A scene from the documentary movie "The Square."
A scene from the documentary movie “The Square.”

CAIRO -- An acclaimed documentary tracing the dramatic arc of Egypt’s uprising against Hosni Mubarak and the tumultuous events that followed received an Oscar nomination on Thursday -- but most Egyptians haven’t had the chance to see it.

“The Square,” Egyptian American director Jehane Noujaim’s depiction of the 2011 revolution and its aftermath, has yet to have a public showing in this country, although some Egyptians have watched it on DVD or while traveling abroad. It is the first Egyptian-made film to be nominated for an Oscar, generating a wave of proud messages on social media.

The documentary was to have had its Egypt premiere at an international film festival in Cairo in December, but the filmmakers said they had received Egyptian authorities’ censorship approval for a previous cut, not the current one, so they decided not to screen it. The film went through several major edits as its makers struggled to keep up with the cascading pace of political events in Egypt.

Thursday’s nomination came nine days before the three-year anniversary of the outbreak of the uprising centered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which culminated in Mubarak stepping down on Feb. 11, 2011.


After the nomination was announced, Noujaim tweeted that “The Square” was dedicated to “the blood, hopes and dreams of Egyptians whose power and beauty and courage we saw in Tahrir.”

In the aftermath of Mubarak’s departure, a military-led temporary administration took over, followed by Islamist Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, and for the past six months a tough-minded military-backed interim government that took power after the autocratic Morsi was removed from office.

Twitter: @laurakingLAT

King is a staff writer and Hassan a special correspondent.