‘The Trials of Spring’: Film Review

Three women keep the fight alive for Egyptian reform.

Chronicling recent Egyptian tumult through the lens of women’s rights and those who fight for them, Gini Reticker‘s The Trials of Spring centers on three women for whom protest has become a way of life. Part of a larger media program including short videos that premiered recently online via The New York Times, it offers a fresh take on much-discussed events while ensuring that the crucial role of women in the Arab Spring is not ignored. Co-produced by ITVS, it should be well received on TV after its festival bow.

We meet two young women, the Muslim Hend Nafea and Christian Mariam Kirollos, along with an older woman, Khadiga Hennawi, who established herself as a surrogate mother to female protesters and, as she puts it, turned her home into Tahrir Square. While the latter two contribute valuable perspectives, the film largely belongs to Nafea, who has suffered tremendously for her continued involvement with demonstrations: She was beaten and molested viciously during one military crackdown, was sexually humiliated in a courthouse while going to answer charges made against her and eventually was charged with terrorism, with a very long prison sentence the likely outcome.

The Bottom Line

A cogent look at recent turmoil and women’s place in it

Reticker chronicles Nafea’s trials without losing sight of the big picture. She both observes the outrages committed against democracy protesters in general and shows how women in particular suffered — enduring a mob of groping hands and more horrific kinds of sexual assault. Groping, we’re reminded, is something men are rarely held accountable for even under the best circumstances, one of many reasons these women are so persistent in their quest for rights that apply to all Egyptian citizens.

Sharp graphics and an emotionally savvy score by Blake Leyh help make the portrait a stirring one.

Production company: ZAG Line Pictures, Independent Television Service

Director: Gini Reticker

Producer: Beth Levison

Executive producers: Abigail Disney, Gini Reticker, Regina Kulik Scully, Sally Jo Fifer

Directors of photography: Tamer Ashry, Muhammad Hamdy, Aida El Kashef, Mohamed S. Amir

Editor: Jenny Golden

Music: Blake Leyh

No rating, 80 minutes