"Mohamed Siam's intelligent, immediate doc charts a young woman's coming of age against the turbulent backdrop of recent Egyptian politics." - Variety
"An empathetic record of post-revolution disillusionment, Mohamed Siam's absorbing Amal is of obvious value as a snapshot and historical document. " - The Hollywood Reporter
"The film's insights into the gendered nature of dissent make this a talking point property." - Screen International
Set during Egypt's recent political upheaval, 'Amal' is a riveting account of a young female activist and her sobering plight for personal and political emancipation. This acclaimed exposé tautly unfolds during a momentous period of six-years in Egypt's history to offer a rare observation of the deep-seated inequality that drove masses of Arab youth to revolt against a corrupt hegemony during a cascade of violence and instability across the region.
Still in her teenage years, eponymous Amal has been spiritly protesting with every faculty she possesses. But there is a manifest revelation in Amal's journey into adulthood, as we witness her early pleas for revolution gradually reinforced in her own jarring experience, and her understanding of her innately dispossessed role in society evolves through the years of turmoil that have engulfed Egypt following the Arab Spring.
As Amal's father had prophesized to her shortly before his death, without having witnessed the waves of Arab Springs unfurl upon his country: “One day, there will be a revolution in Egypt. Do what you want, don’t be afraid.” Just 14 at the time of Egypt's Tahrir Square revolution, Amal bravely took to the streets demanding her voice be heard, and had wormed her way into the very masculine world of the “ultras” of Cairo, who continued the fight in the name of an unfinished liberation that was already dearly paid for in blood and further injustices. We meet Amal just after her boyfriend is killed and she is violently assaulted by armed police. Scarred by injustice, she doesn't yet know the political and personal consequences of her early taste of rebellion. But a new chapter in her country's history will soon unfold before her.
It was during this formative period that filmmaker Mohamed Siam met Amal and started filming her. Over the next six years, he chronicles not only an unguarded young girl's coming of age but a country's parallel struggle towards freedom, in the “post-Tahrir Square” turbulence and the first disillusionment of the Morsi era, followed by General Sissi’s counter-revolutionary coup d'état.
As artfully depicted in Mohammed Siam's engrossing documentary, Amal's voice is just as insightful in its early fluctuation as in its later sobriety. Trapped in the echo-chamber of a transformative period in her country's history, Amal's dramatic account is most revealing when the democratic hopes of the revolution wane and she is left to confront the depths of biases that prevail in her society. Amal finds herself enveloped in an uncompromising, utterly complex political reality, as a young woman asserting herself in an Arab police state, relentlessly challenging her own convictions to keep holding the notion behind her name; Amal - simply meaning "hope". With the emblematic trajectory of her chaotic youth eternalized in Siam's documentary, Amal's voice is bound to resonate further, perhaps in a revolution to come.
83 minutes - Arabic with English subtitles
Directed by: Mohamed Siam
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