The Reluctant Revolutionary

Sana’a tour operator Kais just about manages to scrape together a living from the few fearless travellers who dare to come to Yemen. At first Kais is sceptical about the protesters that set up their vigil against President Saleh at the beginning of the wave of Arab Spring protests, but once he begins working for this film’s director as a translator, he and his younger brother Abdulrahman both join in protests which even peacefully unite members of tribes that are otherwise at enmity. In these difficult times Kais’ wife is expecting her third child. The state of emergency puts an even greater strain on the family’s already difficult financial situation. Moreover, Kais feels responsible for the English filmmaker that the Yemeni secret service deem an unwanted foreign journalist and seek to expel as soon as possible.
Filmed over a period of one year, this documentary reveals the tension that was already present in Yemen three months prior to the first protests – a result of thirty-three years of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s dictatorship. Director Sean McAllister takes a seemingly unobtrusive protagonist and turns him into a genuine hero who experiences his country’s revolution at first hand and, in doing so, makes events tangible for the viewer.
by Sean McAllister
with Quais Al-Qalisi
United Kingdom / Ireland 2011 70’

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