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Jehane Noujaim

Director, The Square

Jehane Noujaim

For capturing the moment.

Jehane Noujaim

Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim wanted to document Egypt's 2011 uprising but was unable to bring professional videographers or equipment into her home country. So she improvised—in effect, becoming a revolution all her own. She used cheap DSLR cameras and a crew of locals whom she met in Tahrir Square to capture the coup that ousted a president. To finance the project, she raised funding on Kickstarter and through grants, then signed a distribution deal with Net­flix. And when Egyptian censors stalled on the release of her film, Noujaim simply posted a free Arab-language version on YouTube. The movie itself, a heartbreaking, hopeful meditation on the Arab Spring, was nominated for an Oscar. "It's about the struggle for change," says Noujaim. "That's an issue that resonates in squares around the world."