Review: ‘Tickling Giants,’ a testament of combatting oppression

“You know what? It’s possible” and there, the movie ended.

Tickling Giantsa documentary film about an Egyptian satirical anchor called Bassem Youssef, was the final of the three films I viewed during the Documentary Film Festival.

As the afternoon rolled in after lunch, I felt really sleepy. Assuming that this was going to be yet another film like the Ai Weiwei Never Sorry (a story about a Chinese artist and an activist), I took my laptop out to take notes on the film that I was not amused to see.

But this thought instantly changed when the screen showed news clips of police shooting tear gas at protesters, a wounded child being carried out of the scene, and furious citizens demonstrating in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt.

This documentary was about Al Bernameg, an Egyptian satire show hosted by the former heart surgeon Bassem Youssef. Screening its birth, growth, and death, the document showed how Yussef started the show through YouTube where he made satirical jokes about the government.

The film then took the audience on a journey through its progress from airing the show through various channels, such as the Egyptian Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) and Middle East Broadcast Center (MBC), to its shut down due to government threat.

I slowly melted into the film via the powerful visual aid of explicit pain; though the contents portrayed in the film were heavy and gloomy, satire made it a little more bright.

It was disheartening to see all the incidents in which Youssef, his family, and his team had to go through; yet, his inclusive way of treating everyone as family and trying to get through the obstacles “as a family” really moved me and made me realize the power of standing up together as a team.

By the time we were halfway into the film, I was not tired anymore, but rather attentive and fairly scared to miss any of the details on the screen.

It was almost like an enlightening call from the projected clips, which constantly grabbed my attention; it introduced me to the other side of the world and its affairs. This eventually led me to dip my feet into Youssef’s shoes for those brief two hours.  

As the movie entered its climax, the part where Youssef had to shut down his show, flee to America to avoid the 100 pounds fine which CBC demanded of him, and stay in a foreign land that prevented him from attending his father’s funeral, I was too provoked to manage my frustration. By the time I was done typing up my notes, there it was, the concluding quote by Youssef:

“You know what? It’s possible.” 

Arousing a great sense of hope through melancholic and infuriating situations, the movie pulled me out from my drowsy state and made me ponder, is it worth going against oppression for change even if it means encountering great suffering?

The film did not just narrate a real-life example of a political activist against the government and its supporters, but it also exhibited the life of a great mentor: someone whom people look up to; someone who is persistent to say: “we are the voice of the people” and “we will fear no one” against oppressors.

Photo credit: Cartoon Movement

Edited by Dhrubhagat Singh

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