Tahrir: Liberation Square: Stefano Savona’s Vital, Chaotic Work


As documented in Stefano Savona’s vital, chaotic Tahrir: Liberation Square, there’s no soundtrack to the Egyptian revolution, at least not one provided by careworn ’60s anthems or rousing string arrangements. There is rhythm to the revolt, though, and it’s established early on, as even a young child chants the refrain emanating from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The variations are many, but the theme is as consistent as the crowd that grows and strengthens throughout Savona’s inside, traditional, vérité portrait of the uprising: Egypt wants democracy! We won’t go ’til he goes! Freedom! Most of us watched the occupation of Tahrir Square from up high and far away; Tahrir loosely follows several dedicated protesters on the ground as they organize, rally, and debate their cause. Like his subjects, Savona never leaves the square, so that indelible moments—like a stranger planting a kiss on a wounded protester as he passes—are stitched to long stretches of “Is it the revolution yet?” confusion, which flow to and from riveting personal testimonials always exchanged between Egyptians, never to camera. Days and nights pass, faces recur, and vows are renewed—never more vehemently than after it appears the people have “won,” and a new and uncertain fate awaits them.