This is hardly a foolproof story strategy, and Noujaim (or her public relations staff) seems to know this. The character profiles include far more information about the film’s key players than the film itself and promise deeper relationships than ever develop on screen. This makes sense; producers are notoriously risk-averse, and there’s nothing but risk in Noujaim’s approach, even if she’s a seasoned director (The Control Room, Rafea).

But the risk pays off. The film is visually beautiful, wonderfully edited, and masterfully mixed (no small feat given the variations in audio quality). Simply nothing feels like it conveys what really happened in Egypt better.

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Jina Moore was a 2013 New Media Fellow of the International Reporting Project