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Egypt: Oscar-nominated The Square never screened at home

News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightNoujaim Films

The first ever Egyptian film to be nominated for an Academy Award has never been screened in its home country, it appears.

The Square (Al Midan) tells the story of revolution in Egypt. It seems to have been suppressed because of its critical depiction of the Egyptian army's role in politics after the 2011 uprising, BBC Monitoring's Egypt analysts say. But authorities insist the film has been held up for administrative reasons, claiming the producers had not filed the correct paperwork.

"It's a kind of politics disguised in bureaucracy," says producer Karim Amer, the Voices of Africa website reports. The film, nominated in the best documentary feature category, follows three activists, from their initial joy after the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, to disillusionment at the ouster of Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Magdy Ashour, one of the film's protagonists, had his house raided by police because he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the now-banned Islamist movement.

The film has been released internationally to widespread acclaim, but in Egypt the only way for people to watch is on YouTube, where it has not been blocked by the authorities.

image copyrightNoujaim Films

The documentary highlights the use of violence by the army against civilians in the 18 months between the ouster of Mubarak and the election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi as president. With a military-backed government now in power, it is feared that the authorities may be reluctant to allow a documentary that paints the army in a bad light.

A potential presidential bid by military commander Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has only made prospects of a commercial release for the film in Egypt even less likely.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAbdel Fattah al-Sisi's popularity may further delay the film's release

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