One-hour documentary from Entertainment One (eOne) will air October 1st on CBC Docs POV at 9 p.m. ET/9:30 p.m. NT
Toronto, ON – September 5, 2017-- Academy Award-nominated director David Paperny’s Mohamed Fahmy HALF FREE will make its world premiere on CBC Docs POV on October 1 at 9 p.m. ET/9:30 p.m. NT. A compelling, intimate portrait of Mohamed Fahmy’s journey from covering one of the biggest stories in the world to becoming the story, the documentary juxtaposes archival footage of the chaos surrounding the journalist’s arrest and trial in Egypt, with Fahmy’s present-day advocacy for human rights from his home in Canada.
The one-hour documentary brings to life Fahmy’s 438 days of wrongful incarceration in Egypt, the involvement of human rights barrister Amal Clooney, and Fahmy’s passionate determination to find meaning in his freedom since his pardon in 2015.
“What do you do with this freedom?” Fahmy asks in the film. “I have the liberty now to turn this experience into something positive, to help others. If you don’t make use of it, then your whole imprisonment has been arbitrary.”
Today, the award-winning journalist runs the Fahmy Foundation, a Vancouver-based non-profit dedicated to providing “advocacy and support for detained and imprisoned journalists, prisoners of conscience and their families.”
Back in 2011, the dual citizen of Egypt and Canada was a hard-nosed CNN producer known for his ability to get to the key players in the unfolding revolution of the Arab Spring. When Al Jazeera offered him the opportunity to head up the network’s English Bureau in Cairo in 2013, he seized the opportunity.
His dream job turned into a nightmare, however, when Fahmy and two of his Al-Jazeera colleagues were arrested later that year. The charge of creating “fake news” and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood was a serious one. Mohamed Fahmy HALF FREE offers insight into the machinations behind the scenes that saw Fahmy tried twice for the crime he did not commit.
“Fahmy’s story is even more relevant today than when we began filming,” says Director and Producer David Paperny. “The attacks on journalists and freedom of the press today is growing, even here in Canada.”
But this is not Fahmy’s story alone. His girlfriend-turned-wife Marwa Omara was there at every step of his distressing journey. The documentary traces her evolution from a woman who wasn’t plugged into politics to a fierce fighter committed to securing her husband’s freedom. Omara went so far as to smuggle information to and from Fahmy while he was wrongfully imprisoned in Scorpion Prison, also known as The Tomb. She even managed to get a cell phone to Fahmy while he was in hospital, risking the wrath of authorities. She became an “ambassador, journalist, (and) human rights defender” during the ordeal.
“I had to stop crying and act, and act fast. I knew what I had to do. I knew who to call. I knew how to make a noise. It wasn’t easy for me to do, but I did it for him,” Omara said, recalling her mind-set following Fahmy’s second conviction in August 2015.
Fahmy had another determined woman on his side: Clooney, the British barrister whose husband is film star and human rights activist, George Clooney. She took up Fahmy’s cause, bringing the international spotlight — and its accompanying pressure — with her.
“Amal Clooney was a game-changer,” Omara points out. Clooney wrote the foreword for The Marriott Cell: An Epic Journey from Cairo's Scorpion Prison to Freedom (Penguin Random House), the book Fahmy co-wrote with Carol Shaben. Fahmy and Clooney have since worked to secure the release of Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who was released on parole in 2016.
Since his presidential pardon in 2015, Fahmy has dedicated himself to “supporting the oppressed, seeking a true democratic society. That’s why I went into journalism in the first place and that’s why I’m willing to fight to the end.”
Mohamed Fahmy HALF FREE is produced by eOne, with the financial participation of the Rogers Documentary Fund. eOne controls the international rights for the documentary.
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About Mohamed Fahmy
Mohamed Fahmy is an Egyptian-Canadian award-winning journalist and author. Fahmy has worked extensively in the Middle East, mostly for CNN. He covered the Iraq War in 2003 for theLos Angeles Times and entered Iraq on the first day of the war. In 2015, Mohamed co-founded the Fahmy Foundation for Free Press to help journalists imprisoned worldwide, and he is currently a member of the Board of Directors for Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression. His book The Marriott Cell, documenting his wrongful incarceration in Egypt for 438 days was originally published in Canada in 2016 and will be re-released in fall 2017.
About David Paperny
David Paperny is an Academy Award®-nominated documentary filmmaker. Based in Vancouver,Paperny has directed a dozen documentary features focused on social issues. For over 20 years, the company he co-founded, Paperny Entertainment, had been acknowledged as one of the world’s top producers of factual programming. His Academy Award-nominated documentary The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter (HBO/CBC- 1994) followed the last two years in the life of Dr. Peter Jepson-Young, a Vancouver Doctor with AIDS. His profile of wrongfully-convicted William Sampson, Confessions of an Innocent Man (CTV/NFB- 2007) won a Canadian Screen Award.