Digital Reporter Liam Stanley reviews Winter of Discontent…
Winter of Discontent begins a few years before the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. It depicts a slice of life from within a country whose people suffered systematic torture and harassment at the hands of a police state.
Batout is committed to portraying the social elements of the uprising and to remind the audience of the build-up of discontent that led to the Revolution. With his direction sensitive to the issue, the film omits gratuitous gore and torture that could have provided the shock factor if it were a Hollywood retelling. Without sliding into the politics behind the uprising, Winter of Discontent prompts viewers to feel a sense of respect for the people and events of the Revolution.
The early scenes introduce us to Amr, who lives in Cairo and is arrested way before the crowds have started to gather in Tahir Square. The atmospheric beginning only alludes to why he has been taken. Meanwhile Farah Youssef, a presenter on an Egyptian television show is in moral turmoil about the lies she has told to her country and finally rebukes her boss’s direction. She joins her family at home to watch BBC to find out what’s really happening. Farah decides to take action and needs Amr to make it happen. Their honourable collusion marks the start of trouble.
For a film depicting real world events, criticism may come for a lack of real world footage to add another dimension to the momentum and a feeling from within the country that the audience may not truly appreciate. A couple of snippets from Tahir Square are featured, predominately to help reach the climactic finale.
Winter of Discontent ends with Mubarak resigning as President and almost presents a view of a new, changed urban Egypt. A couple of years after the Revolution we know this is not to be the case, but that feeling of respect for those who have fought to gain it remains through to the credits.
Whilst the eternal news ticker has moved on from the Egyptian Revolution, this film stands as a reminder of the brutal police state and the struggle that humans have and are still going through in Egypt.
Winter of Discontent screens on Sun 2 June at 16:20 as part of The UK’s Arab Film Festival Presents: Anguish and Enthusiasm. Book your tickets here.