Part of the recent birth of Egyptian independent and citizen journalism, Mosireen is an idea that came about after a group of filmmakers and activists saw the need to create a space supporting independent media. The idea was conceived around March or February 2011, says Salma Said of Mosireen, when the media started to neglect what was happening and citizen journalism became the only space where news was exchanged.
The idea behind Mosireen is clear: supporting citizen journalism of all kinds. “We film the ongoing revolution, publish videos that challenge state media, narratives, provide training, technical support, equipment, organise screenings and events, and host an extensive library of footage from the revolution,” said Said. The goal may be clear, but it is general enough to include many people that feel welcome under the umbrella of Mosireen’s philosophy. “The name itself comes from a play on the Arabic words for ‘Egypt’ and ‘determined,’” Said said.
One of the things Mosireen is known for is hosting screenings of specific (and excellent) film choices. Said explains, “we decided to host Tuesday film nights and screen Arabic and international films subtitled in both English and Arabic. We try to have themes [for these screening]. We had, for example, a month of Palestinian cinema, a month of films about children and teenagers, et cetera. We try to choose the films that are not screened in cinemas in Egypt, and also try to find films about issues significant to what we are going through in Egypt.”
When asked about state censorship and whether they have had problems with any of the film screenings, Said said that they had not because they are independent and would “prefer to stay that way.” She added that Mosireen depends on people’s support to remain independent and that they have launched an online crowd-sourcing campaign to encourage such support.
The philosophy of Mosireen drives the people involved and is absolutely vital to its continuation. Said believes that subverting the narratives of traditional and state media is important, “citizen journalism in media did not just start with the revolution, it was one of the tools activists used since the Kefaya movement. I think it is very important to not have the story of what is happening only told by traditional media. Spreading the tools of telling the story is also getting closer to the truth. The revolution we had still is facing an attack made by the media, and the only way to fight back is by creating out own media, or the people’s own media.”
The presence of many cinema industry insiders prompted the inquiry into the link between cinema and politics or in other words the link between filmmakers and activists. Said explains, “for me, some people make the choice of using whatever tools they have to help and support the revolution to continue, some people used their art, et cetera. A lot of people in Mosireen are filmmakers who decided to use this medium to help the revolution. I, for instance, only learnt filming and editing for the sake of the revolution.”
With a clear vision and the most uncompromising of philosophies, Mosireen’s independence provides credibility and exposes hidden narratives using the non-traditional tools at their disposal to help the revolution continue, or perhaps at this point, survive.