‘The Square’ is the definitive documentary on Egypt’s uprising, but Jehane Noujaim tells Andrew Romano what she had to endure to get it made.
The best documentary of the year may also have been the most dangerous to make.
When 50,000 young Egyptians occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square on January 25, 2011 to protest the fascist regime of Hosni Mubarak, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (she made 2004’s documentary Control Room, about the broadcast network Al Jazeera) was more than 2,000 miles away, in Davos, Switzerland, awaiting the arrival of Egypt’s leadership at that year’s high-flying meeting of the World Economic Forum. “’If the country erupts and I’m with them there, filming, then that will be an interesting story, because there will be a lot of people in the square with their cameras,’” Noujaim thought. “But of course none of the leadership showed up.”