Film Review – Clash

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In association with the GFT.

Set entirely in the back of a police van, Clash, directed by Mohamed Diab, explores the political and social climate of Egypt immediately following the Arab Spring of 2013. The van is dark, cramped, and filled with people from various sides of the conflict. Yet, despite this, Clash manages to stay politically neutral, instead examining what a country in civil war looks like from within a tiny, enclosed space.

The film is claustrophobic, with the two sides – the Muslim Brotherhood members and the pro-army supporters – constantly close to violence. Clash doesn’t shy away from the brutal nature of the revolt. Despite being insulated we see impressive glimpses of the world of the protesters and the army outside, making a film that could have seemed closed-off feel huge. These clashes between the wider forces mimic the tensions within the van, but the way the camera never leaves the space of the van makes the audience seem trapped and helpless, held prisoner and only able to watch.

Never shying away from the brutality of the army, the way the prisoners on all sides are treated by their captives is shocking and horrific, adding to the sense that in the chaos no one is on the “good” side. By refusing to choose a side, Clash shows the ugly prejudice and hate within all the characters, commentating on how civil war and conflict breeds violence in everyone, in both the old men and the young children trapped together in the police van.

Despite this, Clash is not completely grim. Brief flashes of humanity manage to shine through, despite the darkness, as characters still show care and empathy to one another.  This makes the ultimately dark and hopeless ending all the more heartbreaking, as there is a capacity for goodness, but violence and prejudice wins.

This film centers on a period in recent Egyptian history, where it was a country in absolute chaos and violence, but its message can also extend outwards. Clash is extremely timely, and is a film we should all bear in mind as we go forward into these turbulent times.

This film will be screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre from the 21st to the 27th of April, tickets are available here:

The GFT also offers a free 15-25 discount card for students, available here:

[Jo Reid] 


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