70 minutes. U.K.-Ireland, 2012. Subtitled. Colour

It is only now that films documenting the recent Arab Spring are beginning to emerge in sizeable numbers; of these, The Reluctant Revolutionary sets the standard. Director Sean McAllister initially travelled to Yemen to document the country’s decline in tourism, focussing on tour guide Qais as he eked out his living. As peaceful protests against dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh grow, Qais is at first disgruntled at having his profession further disrupted, but becomes a fervent supporter of the movement after bearing witness to the massacre of 52 protesters in Change Square on the ‘Friday of Dignity’.

The footage obtained by McAllister during this vital period is shocking, but the hugely likeable Qais provides the heart of the film; his personal transformation puts a human face on the tragedies and hopes of the Arab Spring.

This film is showing as part of the IFI Stranger Than Fiction Festival 2012, Dublin’s Documentary Festival

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