There’s been a lot of coverage on screen about the Arab Spring, especially relating to Tunisia and Egypt, but little focus on the impact on the media in those countries. Probably because just about every network is in thrall to the authorities, so it’s a difficult angle to pursue. However, documentary filmmaker Sara Taksler struck lucky with her new film Tickling Giants. Not only did she find a way in, she also had the ‘The Egyptian Jon Stewart’.
Bassem Youssef, a doctor living in Cairo, was so frustrated by the media coverage of the January 25 Revolution that he teamed up with Tarek AlKazzaz to create five-minutes web-episodes in his laundry room. It proved so popular that only months later he was offered his own satirical show on a TV network. It became Al-Bernameg. Meaning literally ‘The Show’. It quickly acquired a huge audience, but exposure brought increasing attention from the authorities.
Tickling Giants is an impressive documentary which demonstrates the power satire and humour can have within totalitarian regimes. The only downside is that, for obvious reasons, the story is told almost exclusively from one perspective. However, Bassem is such a personable and charismatic subject that it’s easy to get carried away in the story. Tickling Giants is an entertaining insight into life under an oppressive regime which shows that hope can be found in humour.
Tickling Giants is screening at Bertha Dochouse from Friday.