Director Mohamed Diab held a bold cinematic experiment
NEW YORK – IN the history of world cinema there are a few scenes which takes place in the same room. The most famous of them – us “Twelve angry men” and the French “Mari-October”. It seems that it will be possible to add the movie “Clash” (Clash), directed by Egyptian Director Mohamed Diab Mohamed (Mohamed Diab).
This joint statement Egypt, France and Germany on August 25 was released in new York, after which will be shown in other cities of America. The premiere of “Clash” was held at the Cannes film festival, in the program “Special look”.
All the action takes place in a police van during mass protests in 2013 in Cairo that led to the overthrow of the military government “Muslim brotherhood”. The commandos are thrown into the van about three dozen protesters from different groups of activists, young and old, men and women.
The Egyptian Mohamed Diab is a playwright and Director. His debut as the Director of “Cairo 678” (Cairo 678) was released a month before the “Arab spring” and stirred the public opinion of the country showing the drama of three women who jointly spoke out against sexual violence. Work on the “Clash” took four years.
Correspondent of Russian service “voice of America” on Skype asked a few questions Mohamed Diab, who is in Cairo.
Oleg Sulkin: the Fact that you placed all his characters in one closed and confined space – a bold and unusual decision. In some moments I felt something close to claustrophobia.
Mohamed Diab: I’m too prone to claustrophobia. In order to overcome it, I made this film (laughs).
O. S.: you Must have had doubts as to the effectiveness of this format. As you confirmed in this decision?
M. D.: In 2010, I made the film “Cairo 678”. He had considerable success in Egypt and other countries. Shortly after its release in early 2011, the revolution began. Among the millions of my fellow citizens, I also participated in it. My brother and Khaled began to write a new script, but events have changed so rapidly that our ideas become obsolete at exactly the moment when we have them recorded in writing.
Only after the events of 2013 (in July 2013 a group of military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi. – O. S.) we began with Khaled to discuss his idea of a “Clash”. Since that time, three main forces of the conflict remained the same. It’s revolutionary-minded people, supporters of the “Muslim brotherhood” and the army. It sounds like bitter irony, but the only conclusion we can make about the revolution is its failure.
O. S.: the Idea of a police van as the only designated actions did you take immediately?
M. D.: Yes. She suggested the Khaled. And I took it without hesitation. I like to overcome difficulties. I had no idea how to remove. It was a big chance that we will fail, we will become a laughing stock will catch up with the bore, will make the film monotonous.
O. S.: In a stuffy bus were people of different views. It was difficult to allocate attention to all your heroes?
M. D.: We took a firm decision – in the film, there is one main character. Are all primary. In the van are Islamists, they are also supporters of the “Muslim Brothers”, supporters of the military regime and some of the revolutionaries supporting the idea of democracy. To join the two journalists.
O. S.:it is Immediately apparent that the first two categories together to condemn the journalists, calling them foreign spies and traitors.
M. D.: Absolutely right! The military and the Islamists can severely interfere with each other, but they are United in their opposition to Democrats, including a free press. I’m way more impressed with the word democracy than the revolutionaries. Many extremists from different directions also call themselves revolutionaries, so there is some confusion. Castro called revolutionary, but in fact he was a dictator.
O. S.: But in reality, in Egypt, are the sympathies of the people?
M. D.: About equally between the military and the Islamists, and a small percentage supports democracy. We have tried to reflect this proportion of sympathy in the film. It turned out a kind of snapshot of the current Egyptian society.
O. S.: Perhaps Director, it is difficult to maintain objectivity in the display of conflict that has split the society. On the other hand, it is clear that, expressing, directly or indirectly, sympathy with one side or another of confrontation, you may incur the charges of bias. How have you solved this problem?
M. D.: I learned a lot when trying to put yourself in the shoes of my characters. It was very informative. The film is not about supporting one or another position. The film is about coexistence. It’s okay to be different. It is necessary to find a civilized way of coexisting. We must stop the madness. Having said all that, I still recognize that my sympathies are on the side of democracy, on the side of the biggest idealists caught in company with the rest of them in a police van.
O. S.: In the press release it is reported that you and your brother has written thirteen versions of the script. Why so many?
M. D.: As I said, we were predlagali numerous challenges. Have three dozen characters of different level of involvement in the action. Some say only five or ten words in the entire movie. All of this should make sense, the characters of people and their reactions need to be convincing. We wrote and rewrote the dialogues, removing individual lines and adding others.
O. S.: How did you work with actors?
M. D.: Preliminary work with the actors took a year. It was like the rehearsal period in the theater. And it really helped to build a reaction to Polish the dialogues. Only after this phase we came to the final version of the script.
O. S.: In my opinion, the film conveys a sense of horror and despair of the people inside the van in a trap from which there is no salvation. The camera finds sharp angles, reinforcing the feeling of isolation space. In this regard, the operator Ahmed Gabr is worthy of all praise…
M. D.: Thank You. Here it was necessary to observe Golden mean. If we overdid the injection of claustrophobia, people would run out of the auditorium ten minutes after the beginning of playback. Therefore, in some moments open the doors, we see open space, crowds of people and police. We did it not just for dramatization, but also to relieve the effect of a closed space. We have agreed with our statement that all without exception shootings occur inside of the van. It was a very difficult task. But when you put limits, you are forcing yourself to be more creative. There is, for example, a frame that lasts 4 minutes, and all this time Ahmed with a camera is in constant motion, squeezing between the three dozen people in the narrow space of the van. For this episode had to do 37 takes. Amazing work of the operator and all actors!
O. S.: For scenes of clashes of protesters with the police you used the newsreel?
M. D.: This is the best compliment me. No, all footage filmed by us specifically and all of the extras participated in the filming. An indescribable feeling when using powerful sound amplifier are you using two assistants-coordinators pass teams are about a thousand people. I really helped that during the revolution I was a political activist, so the atmosphere of street clashes I remember very well.
O. S.: Who has influenced you?
M. D.: Christopher Nolan, Alejandro Inarritu and, of course, Paul Greengrass with his “Bloody Sunday” (Bloody Sunday). And two pictures that were my inspiration – Israeli “Lebanon” (Lebanon) and the German “Submarine” (Das Boot).
O. S.: As your picture was taken in Egypt?
M. D.: the Response was dramatic. Society remains polarized, while the only passion in their hearts, but not on the street. I was criticized, denounced both sides – the military and the Islamists. Called a spy, an enemy. And when my support was made by Tom Hanks, was accused that I supposedly forged his letter that it’s all fake. Hanks had via Twitter to prove otherwise, and he has advised people to watch our film. I was extremely happy.