Event: Striking back? Workers and the battle for social justice in Egypt

The factory as Egypt in miniature: 'Out on the street' by Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly

The factory as Egypt in miniature: ‘Out on the street’ by Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly

A discussion and film showing of ‘Out on the Street’ by Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly hosted by Middle East Solidarity magazine

Strikes, sit-ins and protests by workers resisting privatisation, corruption and police brutality played a key role in preparing the ground for the Egyptian revolution of 2011, while mass walkouts during the uprising itself hastened the end of Mubarak’s rule. The brutal crackdown on dissent since the military counter-revolution of 2013 hasn’t entirely stopped workers’ protests: despite the repression, factory workers and civil servants continue to organise collectively to demand social justice. Ceramics workers, shipyard workers, teachers and bus drivers are among those who have organised strikes and protests for higher pay and better conditions at work in recent months. Meanwhile, the military regime’s commitment to meeting the demands of international lenders such as the IMF by cutting subsidies on basic foods and fuel is stoking anger among the tens of millions of Egyptians who live on or below the breadline.

Join us for an afternoon of discussion and film hosted by Middle East Solidarity magazine which asks what role do struggles in the workplace play in shaping Egypt today?

Saturday 26 November, 3.30 – 6.30pm

Venue: Room K2.40, King’s Building, Strand Campus, King’s College London

Book tickets online

Eventbrite - Striking back? Workers and the battle for social justice in Egypt


3.30pm ‘Reporting on the Egyptian workers’ movement from Mubarak to Sisi’ – talk and discussion with Anne Alexander, co-author Bread, Freedom, Social justice: workers and the Egyptian revolution and co-editor Middle East Solidarity magazine.

4.30pm Film-showing ‘Out on the street (Barra fel Shari’)’, followed by Q and A with the directors Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly and Jack Shenker, author of The Egyptians: a radical story.

About the film:

Out on the Street was first shown in 2015. It has played at several international film festivals and in Egypt. It is not a film about workers, but rather about the factory as Egypt in miniature, as directors Philip Rizk and Jasmina Metwaly explain for the film’s listing in the Berlin International Film Festival:

“Out on the Street (Barra fel shari’) is a film about a group of workers from one of Egypt’s working-class neighborhoods, Helwan. In the film, ten working-class men participate in an acting workshop. Through the rehearsals, stories emerge of factory injustice, police brutality, courts that fabricate criminal charges, and countless tales of corruption and exploitation by their capitalist employers. On a rooftop studio overlooking the heart of Cairo—presented as a space between fact and fiction—the participants move in and out of character as they shape the performance that engages their daily realities. Out on the Street interweaves scenes from the workshop, fictional performances, and mobile phone footage shot by a worker intended as evidence for the courts to stop the destruction of his workplace. This hybrid approach aims to engage a collective imaginary, situating the participants and spectators within a broader social struggle.”

71 minutes: Arabic with English subtitles

About the directors:

Jasmina Metwaly is an artist and filmmaker based in Cairo. Her short essay film “From Behind the Monument” premiered at the Berlinale in 2014. She co-curated the Imaginary School Program at Beirut Art Center in 2014/5.

Philip Rizk is a filmmaker and writer based in Cairo. His audio installation “A Colonial Landscape” accompanied Tobias Zielony’s photography exhibition of the same name at Fotohof, Salzburg in November 2015.

Metwaly and Rizk are members of the Mosireen video collective. Their feature film “Out on the Street” premiered at the Berlinale 2015 and was part of the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015. They are currently working on a new project entitled “On Trials”.

Watch a clip from the film online here: https://vimeo.com/123485884

Read the review by Mada Masr here: http://www.madamasr.com/en/2016/01/08/feature/culture/out-on-the-street-playing-the-good-guys/

All proceeds from tickets sold for this event will go directly towards supporting campaigning work by Egypt Solidarity Initiative and Middle East Solidarity magazine in solidarity with activists in Egypt who have been detained or victimised for standing up for rights at work.