Changing Frames & Fault Lines: Notes Towards a Map of a Revolution’s Shifting Narratives

Khalid Abdalla

The story of the Egyptian revolution carries a heavy burden. Its many tales travel across contexts and experience, within Egypt and beyond it, influencing movements and revolutions while building dreams and threatening them. Solidarity fundamentally entails sharing an interpretation of a story. How that story is told and re-told has political and historical implications that are as much about the current moment as they are about the future. Political events are hard to follow at the best of times, and solidarity is broken when the thread of a story is lost or events within it become subject to confusingly competing narratives. At stake is not only solidarity within the Egyptian revolution, but also a story of change and how it happens, or might. Over the past years I have worked with a range of forms and collaborators to engage in telling many of the stories of the Egyptian revolution. With each form and each language, each event and each audience, comes a framework within which those stories can be told and shared. In this essay I reflect on what I see as some of the key fault lines in translating events between contexts as a way of searching for the map that underlies so many shifting narratives.

Khalid Abdalla works as an actor, producer and filmmaker, but also in cultural production, alternative media, and as an activist. He is a founding member of three collaborative spaces in Cairo – Zero Production, Mosireen and Cimatheque. Khalid has acted leading roles in Hollywood films, including United 93, The Kite Runner and Green Zone. He also has two upcoming films from the Arab world: In the Last Days of the City and The Narrow Frame of Midnight. In documentary film, he has producing credits on In the Shadow of a Man and the upcoming film The Vote. He also appears as himself in the Oscar nominated The Square. Born in Glasgow and brought up in London, he lives in Cairo.