THE STORY OF THE “EGYPTIAN JON STEWART” IN #2 DOCUMENTARY SPOT ON ITUNES
The Daily Show Senior Producer, Sara Taksler, announces the iTunes release of TICKLING GIANTS, a funny and heartbreaking new film about the “Egyptian Jon Stewart”, Bassem Youssef, may break #1 Documentary spot in only third day on itunes. The VOD release is distributed by Gravitas.
TICKLING GIANTS has a one-week exclusive on iTunes beginning June 6th (order now at apple.co/TicklingGiants). A wide release on Amazon, Google play, and others begins June 13th (links will be available at www.TicklingGiants.com ). TicklingGiants.com will also have a version with 30-minutes of extras. The film is also available for educational, community, and independent theatrical screenings across the globe. These showings intend to spark dialogue about the abuse of power, free speech, and how Muslims are treated in society. Audiences should share the creative, non-violent ways they are fighting abuses of power with the hashtag #TicklingGiants.
TICKLING GIANTS shows what happens when Dr. Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian heart surgeon, brings satire to Egypt during the Arab Spring. TICKLING GIANTS follows Youssef as he meets his hero, Jon Stewart, and as he gets in major trouble for jokes about religion and government. The movie looks at creative ways to fight a president who abuses his power and tries to limit free speech. TICKLING GIANTS is a cautionary tale about what can happen when leaders go unchecked. The film trailer may be found here.
TICKLING GIANTS is produced by Sarkasmos Productions LLC, in association with Technicolor. Frederic Rose, the CEO of Technicolor, decided to Executive Producer the film shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attack, “It (Charlie Hebdo) certainly informed our decision to back Sara. We’re a French company. That attack, and the attacks of mid-November remain very much on our minds. Bassem is a very charismatic individual. But more than that, the film is a window into the Islamic world of today – in all its complexity.”
When Taksler found out Technicolor wanted to be an Executive Producer she figured it was a joke, “I thought one of my friends was pulling a prank. What were the chances that Technicolor would randomly see my trailer and decide to come on board as an Executive Producer? I won a contest I hadn’t even entered.”
Taksler never could have imagined that Tickling Giants would become quite so relevant in the western world. “Tickling Giants is a movie about a guy who steps up when he sees power being abused in his country. Since Bassem does this through satire, I viewed the story through the lens of my comedy background. I never expected that I would relate so strongly to the politics in Egypt.”
As there is a global conservative shift in governments, Taksler sees the movie in a whole new light. “At a screening right after the U.S. election, an audience member said, ‘This is a cautionary tale for America’ and the whole crowd agreed. It is emotional to see how much American audiences see their own struggles in Bassem’s story.” What surprised Taksler most is how broad the audience has been, “I expected liberals and fans of The Daily Show to like the movie. What I didn’t expect was the response Tickling Giants would get from others. On the way to our premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, I got a call from someone advising Ted Cruz, who loves the film and has become a champion for it. People who work with the Koch Network have come out to support screenings. I never expected the right and left to come together on this. But I’ve met people from all backgrounds who support free speech and are worried about politicians abusing their power. They want this movie to be seen and discussed.” The recent “Muslim Ban” has only strengthened Tickling Giants’ support, Taksler says, “When people watch the movie, they see that these good, kind, funny people are the types of individuals we’re talking about when we discuss banning refugees and Muslim immigrants.”
According to Youssef, the messages in Tickling Giants can help viewers to understand how to use humor to change things, “I hope this film reaches a global audience, so that people everywhere can realize the power of freedom of expression, the power of speaking truth to power, and how satire and humor are great ways to put their case forward. When you live in fear, when you’re afraid all the time, you can’t think. You blindly follow the dominant narrative, believe the propaganda, and censor out every kind of common sense or logic that you have. But when you laugh, when you see the humor, speak the humor, and satirize, you can’t be afraid anymore. When you are laughing, you are no longer afraid.”
Taksler, also a director of the documentary, “TWISTED: A Balloonamentary” (co-directed with Naomi Greenfield, premiered at South By Southwest in 2007 – and also available at TicklingGiants.com), explained her goal for Ticking Giants, “I hope people are inspired by Tickling Giants to think of creative, non-violent ways to have their voices heard when they see an abuse of power. The people at Bassem’s show, Al Bernameg, inspired me because they do what I do at The Daily Show, but with such incredibly high stakes. Now that I live in a country where the president is offended by Saturday Night Live, I’m realizing that the stakes are getting high here, too.”