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Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2012: Words of Witness

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Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2012: <em>Words of Witness</em>
Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2012: <em>Words of Witness</em>

One of the most stirring moments in Words of Witness, a new documentary by Mai Iskander, is the storming of the State Security headquarters in Cairo. After the start of the revolution on January 25, 2011, many protesters were imprisoned, some rounded up in Tahir Square. Now three weeks after Mubarak’s ouster, the crowds storm the infamous bastille to see if there may still be prisoners left inside. As they force their entry, chaos spreads through the spooky hallways. This could very well be the Stasi, so generic these corridors of officialdom seem, with fluorescent lights and linoleum tiles. The camera shakes frantically. Unsure where to look, the men rip floor tiles, in search for secret passageways. What they find instead are black bags filled with secret files. In them, thousands of lives are documented, as they were spied on, interrupted, tortured, tragically cut short. To see this ocean of evidence, as the men plow through it in search of familiar names, is breathtaking.