When reading about Clash, an account of the 2013 Egyptian riots all filmed from inside a police van, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a gimmick film that will run out of steam quickly. But it carries its central idea with relatively great strength from the beginning to the end of its 97 minutes.
Clash begins with an arrest of two journalists reporting on the conflict between police and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. The movement of the van towards and away from riot areas forces narrative development as the police arrest more and more people and put them in the van, which is a clever way of forming the narrative as it allows for what’s happening outside the van to provide context for the changing dynamics within. The characters inside the police van are at the mercy of what is happening outside, some of which is out of anyone’s control. Different members of different religious groups, women and children, and argumentative pairs are thrown into the tight confines of the van together, causing internal conflict alongside the conflict going on in the streets.
The setting is very claustrophobia inducing – the camera never leaves the van, the frame getting tighter and tighter around characters’ faces as it fills with more people. The hard-hitting reality of being stuck in the middle of such violent unrest is well communicated, and the panic that many of the characters express manages to cause unrest in the audience, creating a personal experience alongside events that many viewers may not have thought about otherwise.
Shocking and inventive, Clash is a fascinating and immersive watch that holds up its style of filming remarkably well. The runtime could be a little shorter, but overall it’s surprisingly engaging and shows an original take on current political events.
Cast: Nelly Karim, Hany Adel, Ahmed Malek, Ahmed Dash, El Sebaii Mohamed
Director: Mohamed Diab
Writers: Mohamed Diab, Khaled Diab
Synopsis: The 2013 riots in Egypt are told from the inside of a police van.