There’s no doubt that we’re all aware of uprisings, protests and similar in relation to war and the treatment of people in various regimes worldwide, but how much do we really know? Very few of us will look further into particular situations, instead simply consuming what the media has chosen to show us. We’re all aware of the editing choices and decisions that have to be made behind the scenes resulting in such a narrow view of stories we see on television and, more than ever, through online news. Documentary film makers often look to present an alternative view on a story, one which perhaps the mainstream has never been interested in or been able to investigate in any great depth. We Are The Giant is one such documentary.
Premiering earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, this Greg Barker-directed film focuses on what is known as the Arab Spring, a wave of revolution that began around the end of 2010 and continued for the next couple of years. Now released in cinemas in the UK, Barker’s work can finally be seen by an audience mostly ignorant to the personal tales of morality and beliefs, showing their confliction and determination in a notoriously difficult situation. He does not shy away from asking the necessary questions, and while there’s a passion and enthusiasm here for the fight, it’s clearly illustrated that this is a true struggle and one that may not yield the results they truly seek.
By giving a face to the activists, We Are The Giant allows you to relate to those behind the uprising in ways you simply never get in ordinary news coverage. When you see the protests captured on film, they are usually a faceless group portrayed as violent and unsettling, but here the action is backed up by personal tales and principles that certainly make you think twice about jumping to conclusions about unfamiliar circumstances. Revolutionaries from Gandhi to Martin Luther King have existed throughout history and this is nothing new, it’s simply a case of us having far more access via the media. Technology is advancing but at the heart of these situations, many of the ideals and politics have stayed the same for decades.
We Are The Giant takes risks. The crew, interviewees and all involved took risks to put this together, but as you watch it unfold you feel that it’s worth it in the end. To cover a largely untold story and present it to the world is an admirable cause, and one well worth watching. We are taken on a journey of where these people grew up, why they are how they are, and how they want to change their lives. We all get to a certain point in our lives where we’re old enough to make our own decisions and break free from the shackles of family and regime, and the film captures this perfectly.
Part peaceful, part violent, but on the whole honest and open, Barker’s depiction of the Arab Spring is compelling, heart-breaking and manages to be classic and modern all at the same time. The changes through time versus the contemporary use of social media all forms a much wider picture of revolution in this world – one that shows this is a small part of a much longer ongoing process. You are left with an admiration for those who are willing to put their lives on the line, and a sense that this has happened before and it will happen again. What is most important is that it’s not swept under the carpet, and Barker’s work is just one of many ways history will be documented going forward. We Are The Giant is a powerful and thought provoking piece that will make you think twice about unfamiliar societies around the world.