Director Mohamed Diab walks the thin line between art and truth, exposing a harsh reality while simultaneously exercising cinematic excellence. It’s a difficult line to walk but Clash does it brilliantly. Taking place during the time of unrest in Egypt immediately following the military coup of 2013, this feature is a hard-hitting, at times disturbing, glimpse of one of those days.
There’s something to be said about keeping unity of time and place in a drama, especially a film. It’s rarely done and even more rarely done well. In Clash, we seldom see the outside of the police van over the course of several hours in one day and it couldn’t be more intense. The camera’s perspective puts us in the vehicle with everyone else. It’s a diverse group ranging from pro-military supporters to Muslim Brotherhood members to journalists, to women and children, old men, and young ones too. What develops is an incredible dynamic that’s intoxicating to watch; it’s the conflicting sense of camaraderie that arises – that despite protesting against one another in the street, these people help and protect each other in the van. Tempers erupt and opinions clash but as the film continues and the soldiers become increasingly brutal and cruel to the prisoners, they all fight for one another, they all fight to keep one another alive.
Without a designated hero or heroine to follow, viewers have the rare experience of watching with an unbiased eye. Although we don’t see much of the scope of the actual protests, these scenes are not missed. The fact that we don’t get a clear picture of what’s going on adds to the sense of mounting chaos. When the audience do see and hear the protesters, their obscurity is frightening and felt heavily in the van. Diab succeeds in creating and conveying what one could only imagine to be the most terrifying experience in such a way that it feels authentic without being presumptuous. It’s difficult to sum Clash up in a convenient way, but this film makes you feel the humanity in people. When a piece of art can do that, it’s truly remarkable.
Clash is released nationwide on 21st April 2017.
Watch the trailer for Clash here: