United Kingdom / Ireland, 2012, 70'
The Reluctant Revolutionary
"The great thing about Sean's films is that he champions the characters in his documentaries: he always takes a loser and makes them a winner", writes documentary legend D.A. Pennebaker. Celebrated as one of Britain's top documentary film-makers, Sean McAllister has developed a taste for finding stories in countries convulsed by violent revolutions. Human encounters are crucial for his type of cinema. Possibly more than any other film-maker active today, he has demonstrated a remarkable ability to earn the trust of his characters and to get close to their private lives – close enough to learn their back stories, gain access to what is really happening with them, and see through them the larger stories of their countries and nations.
The protagonist, in this case, is a 35 year-old family man and tour guide from Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, who is struggling to make ends meet while the Yemenite revolution is in the making. When Kais, a supporter of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, receives word that, due to the uprising, he must swiftly get his group out of the country, he is left with McAllister as his only client: from that moment onwards, for almost a year, Kais will be the filmmaker's first-hand source of information about how the Yemenite revolution is lived by ordinary citizens. As always, McAllister shoots alone, and his hand-held camera chronicles, with passion and commitment, Kais's transformation from cautious skeptic to committed participant, while simultaneously exposing, and reflecting upon, the brutal realities of a historic uprising.
12 March, 20:00, Cinema Corso
17 March, 18:00, Cinema Union
Special Jury Prize, Batumi International Art-House Film Festival, Georgia, 2012
Audience Award, EBS International Documentary Festival, South Korea, 2012
Santa Rosa International Film Festival, USA, 2012
International Ethnographic Film Festival, Sardinia, Italy, 2012
Stranger Than Fiction Film Festival, Ireland, 2012
Tri Continental Film Festival, South Africa, 2012
Dokufest Prizren, Kosovo, 2012
Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival, UK, 2012
DocAviv: Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, Israel, 2012
Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Canada, 2012
Middle East Now Festival, Florence, Italy, 2012
Berlin International Film Festival, Germany, 2012