CROP: Experimental documentary offers absorbing account of Egypt revolution

Inspiration to think about power of images

LONDON - CROP is an absorbing account of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 – one that includes no images of the popular uprising itself.
Filmed entirely within the offices of Al-Ahram, the country’s largest state-run newspaper, the film is a series of carefully composed shots that expose the institution’s functioning and the former regime’s strict control over information.
The viewer is listening to the story of an older photojournalist who missed out on the revolution due to a hospital stay.
Everyone deserves their own image, that’s the gist of an old Egyptian pop song. In reality there used to be only one official image along the Nile for a long time: that of a strong and powerful Egypt, embodied by its rulers.
The majority of the population had no place in it. The young revolution was a revolution of images, too: the people conquered the right to be represented with their digital cameras and mobile phones, and reached the world.
But how representative are those new images, one wonders in view of the more than uncertain current situation.
The film takes a step back to look behind the structures of the old power. It reveals with tableau-like shots the apparatus of power, in which official Egypt reproduced itself since Nasser’s day.
Starting with the conference rooms under the roof down to the basement garages where the papers are bundled for delivery, the viewer meets a multitude of employees doing their various jobs, while a narrator’s voice, an intersubjective surrogate of interviews with photo journalists, recites a first-hand account, as it were, of Egyptian media history.
The strict division between the visual and audio levels makes people look more closely and raises questions: for whom will this apparatus work in the future?
With their formal mastery and perceptive framing, Johanna Domke and Marouan Omara inspire the public to think about the power of images.
Johanna Domke is a visual artist working with film, born in 1978 in Kiel, D. She grew up in Germany and Argentina and studied Fine Arts at the Royal Danish Art Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark and the Malmö Art Academy, Sweden.
She is producing work for a cross-over field between art and cinema with a both structural and socio-political approach. She regards the image production itself as an analysis of perception and is concerned with how images influence the course of history, the creation of meaning and the shaping of identity.
She carried out a number of collaborative projects and participated in artist in residencies at Platform, Istanbul, Townhouse, Cairo and EMPAC, NY. Her work has been shown in international group and solo shows in recognized art institutions and film festivals around the world.
Marouan Omara is a young creative filmmaker from Cairo, Egypt born in 1987. He studied photography at the faculty of Applied Arts in Cairo and joined the Academy of Cinema Arts And Technology in 2006 to follow his passion for filmmaking.
Starting his career as a freelance photographer, he showed his work in exhibitions on both national and international level. He has been producing a row of documentaries and worked in several productions in different positions.
He has been recently taking part in the cultural expedition “Arabia Off Screen” and participated in the Durban Talent Campus for young filmmakers. Marouan Omara is currently preparing his first feature film “Repeated Stopping” which will be produced in the beginning of 2014.