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‘The Square’ and the streets, 3 years on: Jehane Noujaim at TED2014

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Jehane Noujaim. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In 2006, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim won a TED Prize with her wish to bring the world together for one day of film. Today during Session 4: Wish, she talks about her latest film, The Square. The Oscar-nominated documentary follows the lives of a group of protestors during the Egyptian Revolution. Their mantra: “We will no longer live in the story that has been written for us.”

Now three years on, with Egypt still leaderless, is the revolution a failure? No, says Noujaim; success or failure is not only determined by the recent political outcomes. “Democracy,” she says, “is a journey, not a destination.” The real revolution is palpable in the streets, explains Noujaim. When an innocent victim is killed, their face spreads across the city. As she says, “The truth may not always be shown on television, but it is being painted on the walls, tweeted, shared.”

Meanwhile The Square is spreading across the world. It’s available in 50 countries on Netflix and has been translated and shown in Kiev, Moscow and Caracas. “Truth and courage,” says Noujaim, “are contagious.” Her film may not have won the Oscar, but in the streets of Cairo graffiti artists have awarded Noujaim the Oscar of the Street. And that, she says, is the best award she could have imagined.