The promise of change spread like wildfire across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 as men and women stood shoulder to shoulder chanting a simple yet galvanizing slogan: “bread, freedom and social justice for all.” Decades-old repressive regimes fell amid a swell of unity and optimism in the region.
But almost immediately following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, women became targets of sexual and physical violence at public protests. The Trials of Spring follows the ensuing fight undertaken by three Egyptian women — Hend Nafea, Khadiga Hennawi, and Mariam Kirollos — to ensure that the goals of the Arab Spring include everyone. They are willing to risk everything in pursuit of their vision.
At the center of the film is the story of Hend Nafea. From a college activist to a central protest figure sexually assaulted by the military, she is determined to seek justice in the courts. Despite criticisms from her conservative family and a meandering bureaucracy, she remains resolute in her vision of freedom: “ nation without torture is a dream that can come true” she says.
The Trials of Spring offers razor-sharp insight into the disturbing and troubled story of Egypt after the Arab Spring, the human rights abuses that came to define it, and the bold women fighting for justice and freedom despite every effort to silence them.