‘Another night on Earth’ – a film about Egypt through conversations in taxis

Middle EAst

One of the things that characterises Cairo is its chaotic traffic and the constant noise of taxis’ horns as they try to snake through the streets. The taxis and Cairo are exactly where the film ‘Another Night on Earth’ takes place.

A taxi, a driver and passenger are the three main elements of this film that tells the story of ordinary Egyptians debating and arguing about the present and future of the country since the Revolution.  An uprising, that continues more alive than ever after the last protests that let the army to take over, ousts the President, Mohammed Morsi, and dissolves the Parliament.

The film captures the opinions of the passengers through conversations in taxis.  The director of the film, David Muñoz, chose this way to tell the story because “Egyptians spend so much time in taxis due to traffic jams and the taxis are private spaces that allow people to talk calmly with strangers”.

Despite the film being shot from May to September 2011, the same dialogues can be heard today in the streets of Egypt. One of the passengers stated, “If there is a new president and he makes a new constitution, and we are not convinced, we will carry on the protests. If there is no change, we will force him to resign”.

Another passenger asked, “Where is the revolution? This is not a revolution. Revolution means change at all levels and we are still the way we were at the start, or worse”.

Muñoz affirms, “there is a clear need for change embedded in the people that is irreversible. Everything that I recorded in 2011, I see  today. The problems they had in 2011, they still have in 2013”.

He shot 70 journeys where all kinds of people got into the taxis, including big families, women, children and men. They all talked about different topics, ranging from politics to social problems such as unemployment, education and health.

During one of the journeys, the taxi driver argues with two Muslim women about the protests in Tahrir Square.  While the driver criticised the impatience of the protesters that cannot wait for results, the women defended them – “Nobody wants to wait now, they want it all now, because of the lies and deception they have seen since birth. They never do what they say”.

Religion is also addressed in the film. A woman and a driver discussed the possibility of an Islamist government, forcing women to wear the hijab on the streets. The passenger highlights the right to choose and he thinks of his daughter as an example. “She is the one who has to decide if she wants to wear it or not. The normal thing is for everyone to make up their own minds”.

The 52- minute documentary focusses on the problems of ordinary Egyptians and stays away from the mainstream media discourse. Muñoz found himself fascinated by the Egyptian people “who are very extrovert and brave, who do not close their mouths, and who say what they think without second thoughts or fears which we have assimilated in the West”.

Article published on yourmiddleeast.com

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Emad Burnat: “My next project is to make a second part of 5 Broken Cameras”

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Emad Burnat

Emad Burnat, co-director of 5 Broken Cameras, has visited more than 40 countries in the last 2 years to promote his  Palestinian documentary. His schedule is filled with screenings worldwide. In four days, he has visited 6 cities in the UK. Then, he will go back for a few days to his hometown Bil’in before heading to Switzerland and the United States. His desire to spread his personal story in order to bring more attention to Palestinian life in the West Bank has made him plan a second part of the film as his next project

Q: How has your life changed since 5 Broken Cameras?

A: I have been travelling around the world visiting more than 40 countries to promote my film. I have been Oscar-nominated and have had the chance to meet very famous people that I used to see on TV, but to be honest, nothing has changed in my life. I am the same person, I live in the same house and I have the same car. For me, what is important is looking to the future, the future of my kids and the village.

Q: Has the success of your documentary improved the life conditions of your neighbours in Bil’in?

A: People in the village are trying to rebuild and plant new trees in the land that we got back after the Israeli Court ordered the government to change the route of the wall near Bil’in. However, in reality, people continue to demonstrate against the wall and the settlements every Friday.

In general, the situation is worse. There is no change or sign of good change. We face the Israeli occupation every day and the expansion of settlements and confiscation of our land.

Q: After 5 Broken Cameras, what is next?

A:  I continue filming the changes and events in the village. My next idea is to make a second part of the documentary within 2 or 3 years. It will take time as I want to find a good story to tell. It is not about making another film or getting rich and doing business, but it is something related to my life, my kids, my friends, my land and my country. The message of making this documentary was to show my story, my people, to show the reality of what is really happening in order to make people think, to make a change.

Q: What are the obstacles that you will face making the next film?

A: I think the most difficult thing will be raising the funds to make the documentary. There is not enough support or interest in making documentaries in Palestine.

Q: Has the number of organisations or individuals approaching you for cooperation after the success of your documentary increased?

A: No one has approached me asking to work together. The most important thing for me it is to continue screening the documentary, especially to the people who do not know much about the Palestinian problem. My effort is to show them our story, the story of the Palestinian people.

 Interview published at yourmiddleeast.com