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Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #41: Karim El Hakim and Omar Shargawi, '1/2 Revolution'

By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire January 15, 2012 at 10:30AM

Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #41: Karim El Hakim and Omar Shargawi, '1/2 Revolution'
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"1/2 Revolution" director Karim El Hakim in Tahrir, Egypt
"1/2 Revolution" director Karim El Hakim in Tahrir, Egypt

Omar Shargawi was raised by a Danish mother and Palestinian father in Copenhagen. His first directorial feature, "Go in Peace, Jamil" (2008), won several film fest awards (at Rotterdam, Gothenburg, Warsaw). Shargawi's 2010 "My Father from Haifa" (2010), a personal documentary, won the Muhr Arab Documentary Special Jury Prize and the people’s choice award at Dubai, and the Film Academy of Denmark’s Robert award.

Karim El Hakim, an Egyptian American director and director of photography, has contributed to several award-winning docs, including "My Trip to Al Qaeda" (2010), "Giran (Neighbors)" (2009), and "Egypt We Are Watching You" (2008). Based in Cairo, his short films include "Ein Semeka (Fisheye)," "Miraculum," and "Beit Min Lahm (House of Flesh)," which won the Egyptian State Prize for best cinematography in 2006. Of being an documentarian and cinematographer, El Hakim says; "What turns me on about documentaries especially, is exploring the time and space around me, following the individual threads of emotional energy in each of the characters I become invested in. How will these emotional strings play out? Capturing these threads of life is like a series of divine revelations - being witness to life in all its magic and complexity."

What's it about: A visceral handheld testimony about a close-knit group of friends living in downtown Cairo, trapped inside the escalating Egyptian Revolution, struggling to stay alive and stick together. Armed with cameras and determination, directors Shargawi and El Hakim take to the streets to capture historic events out of view of the world’s media.

"1/2 Revolution."
"1/2 Revolution."
Says director El Hakim: "'1/2 Revolution' is a completely accidental film. When the Egyptian Revolution sparked, we had a knee-jerk reaction to the massive protests erupting around us and we knew we had to film it -for history's sake at the very least. Of course we were also living the situation, both as participants and observers at the same time. After a few days of living and filming, we discovered the purpose of our film, who the characters were (ourselves and our circle of friends), and what the story was (living through it all). We also discovered that the film was not particularly about the Revolution -- we did not run around town like reporters covering every event. We were living our lives, experiencing the street and filming it all along the way. The result we discovered while editing '1/2 Revolution,' is a strange cross-over that breaks the line, that merges 'behind-the-camera' with 'in-front-of-the-camera' planes of reality and image that somehow invite the audience to be along the ride with us, to be one of our friends in the group experiencing the waves of action in real-time, just out of frame.

"We had many challenges along the way in the making of this film. I was shot at (I got hit with a rubber bullet to the head), arrested, beaten-up, intimidated, photographed and followed during the filming process. Editing took us to Denmark which was interesting and challenging. The process of finding the film's message and mood took some time and much deep collaboration between Omar and myself and our editor Thomas [Papapetros]. We had to find a balance between character and environment, action and lots of emotional highs and lows and somehow all fit them together in a fluid, clear chain of events. This took time but in the end it was all so worth it.

"I'd like people to feel what it was like to live through the experience of a revolution first hand. I think people will feel that they were there too somehow. In that sharing of our experience I think we will find a sympathetic audience in solidarity with a phenomenon that is sweeping the globe, and that effects all of us. 1/2 Revolution also makes the point that there is a lot of work to do for real change to happen and that its not an easy or fast road."

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.



Keep checking here every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers, 1/2 Revolution, Sundance Film Festival







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