Directed by Mohamed Diab
28th April- 3rd May 2017
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
In the opening scenes the film resembles a documentary of the uprisings in Egypt – Clash focused on a day in June 2013 – when supporters of the pro-regime Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and those supporting the coup-launching military fought each other throughout the country, after the army had ousted MB President Mohamed Morsi.
This feel of a documentary pervades throughout with the many and varied camera angles, all captured within the confines of an armoured police truck, including many shots, as viewed through the windows, of what is taking place outside the vehicle.
Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, creating only his second feature film, takes no political sides, but what intrigued me was how he got the political licence, given the authoritarian nature of the Egyptian rulers, to produce a film some might see as anti-MB and others anti-police state. Artists of all descriptions in the country have, in recent years, found insurmountable barriers to create any meaningful art work.
The film opens with two American-Egyptian journalists arrested in Cairo during a protest and thrown into the truck, despite their heated claims that they both work for Associated Press.
More protesters are rounded up from both the MB and coup supporters and forced into the now sweltering conveyance.
The mixture of the two disparate groups inevitably leads to high-octane and impassioned clashes between various individuals. These are realistically played by the actors, notably the charismatic Nelly Karim.
The claustrophobic setting reminded me a lot of ‘Lebanon’, directed by Maoz Samvil in 2010, which was entirely set within an Israeli tank during their conflict in Lebanon.
As the anarchistic-like setting progresses you ask the questions, where are the captives being taken to? The prisons in Cairo are full. And will they eventually release the kids, women and elderly people in the truck?
The view has been expressed that the truck ‘is a microcosm of Egypt.’ This is debatable.
Another opinion is that ‘Clash’ may not appeal to those not informed of the political and cultural upheavals Egypt has endured in recent years.
They don’t necessarily need to know the details of what led to the uprisings there. What the film conveys is representative of so much which has occurred, and still occurring, in the world.