I have a confession: I hated social studies in school. I wasn’t interested and I didn’t really see how a war that happened over 100 years ago, for example, had anything to do with today. I know, stupid. Of course history has everything to do with today. Events shape us, change us, change governments, change borders, etc. To make up for lost time, I now travel as much as I can so I can experience other cultures, and learn about their customs and their history. When I can’t travel . . . I see films. The next best thing. Especially when I attend VIFF and take in independent films (works of art, really) that bring us up close and personal.
Tickling Giants was no exception as I got to visit Egypt and ‘meet’ Bassem Youssef, known as the Jon Stewart of Egypt. The film takes us through the fall of President Mubarak (2011 – Egyptian Revolution), to the elected then removed President Morsi, and finally into an even deeper hole with Sisi — Egypt’s former Minister of Defence and their present President. Now that’s a journey through history!
The promise: freedom of expression. The reality: only if you don’t criticize authority or the person in power, which is exactly what Youssef did as a comedian and TV satirist during the uprisings of the Arab Spring.
Bassem Youssef and his crew expressed themselves at great risk and for a great cause. This film is full of laughs, and shows how humor can be used to have a voice and gather common thinkers. As Youssef says, “Sarcasm: Because beating the shit out of people is illegal”!! See this film yourself to learn about Egypt and to honor the risks that were taken by Youssef to preserve freedom of speech.