Worthy documentary tribute to Arab Spring protesters focuses on non-violent methods but fails to tackle a chaotic present
Greg Barker’s documentary is a heartfelt, if historically disjointed, tribute to individuals who took part in the Arab Spring; these dignified Davids took on brutal Goliaths in Libya, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain. Some of these dictators went, and some have clung on, luxuriating in the support of the American and British governments.
It is impossible not to be moved by the protesters’ passionate belief in liberty, but also, I think, not to worry about what has succeeded the Arab Spring: a troubling, complex situation from which this film largely averts its gaze. The key question is where on the spectrum between violence and non-violence protests should position themselves.
The film vehemently argues for non-violence, although Barker’s interviewees seem to be under the impression that non-violence was the ANC’s approach. (Not exactly.) One Syrian protester makes a very powerful point: that non-violence was the only way to preserve a grassroots popular movement: “With militarisation comes the dependence on outsiders.” A heartfelt portrait of courage.