This Friday will see the premiere of The Trials Of Spring, a cross-media documentary about the lives of women seeking freedom and social justice amid the backdrop of the Arab Spring. The feature-length film is opening at the 2015 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and The New York Times is releasing six documentary shorts on its website in the run-up to the premiere.

The Trials Of Spring project follows the lives of nine women from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen. Documentary director Gini Reticker expressed her desire to give a voice to women who have played a pivotal role in the Arab uprisings, but who have gone largely unnoticed. “It was in almost every place we looked that behind the stories… women were the instigators,” said Reticker. “These are stories that you don’t know at all, and it’s amazing.”


Each short film has been directed separately; the first short film, Life’s Sentence, is available at the The New York Times, and at The Trials Of Spring website (which includes a navigable map of stories). Life’s Sentence introduces Hend Nafea, a 26-year-old Egyptian woman who attended the 2011 “cabinet clashes” in Tahrir, only to be severally beaten and imprisoned by military police who were dispatched to stop protesters. After a trial spanning several years and 25 separate charges, Nafea is among hundreds of protesters who were sentenced in absentia to life in prison. Nafea currently lives in Lebanon and will be attending Friday’s premiere in New York.