Egyptian satirist and many an Egyptian intellectual’s dream man, Bassem Youssef, is to be the subject of upcoming feature length documentary, Tickling Giants. The independently produced film will be directed by Sarah Taksler – a senior producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – and is currently posted on crowdfunding website, Indiegogo.
The links with Jon Stewart don’t end there, though; Iranian-Canadian journalist and seasoned documentary filmmaker, Maziar Bahari, is on board as the producer. Bahari’s 118-day incarceration by the Iranian government in 2009 was the subject of Stewart’s 2014 directorial debut, Rosewater.
Describing the documentary as the story of "one man standing up to an entire regime with no weapon but his biting wit," Taksler aims to explore how non-violent protest and free speech can make an impact where those two things are at a premium.
Aiming to raise $150,000 for transcription, translation, subtitling and editing, the film had, at the time of publishing, reached just of $45,000 - in a mere ten days. Impressive.
What comes a surprise in all of this is that the film has essentially already been shot and has been in the works for some time, though Taksler and co were weary of making the project public knowledge to protect all involved.
This including Youssef's writing team - some of whom were weary of speaking out - and other members of the crew while in Egypt. It's something that hit home pretty quickly quickly after an incident involving an anti-Bernameg Cairene beating up a cameraman.
Despite this and other difficulties filming and interviewing around Egypt, there's light at the end of the tunnel and, if all goes as planned, Tickling Giants will be in theatres in the US and do the festival circuit. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to be screened in Egyptian cinemas, although who knows - maybe the recent news that the Egyptian Censorship Authority is to ease up on what it let's slide into cinemas will work in its favour. Probably not, though.