Show of the week: Road to Revolution

Road to Revolution is a multiplatform project that tells the stories of the families and individuals affected by the demonstrations and uprisings that, starting in 2010, swept the Arab World and became collectively known as the Arab Spring.

The brainchild of a trio of Portuguese journalists – Tiago Carrasco, Joầo Henriques and Joầo Fontes – multiplatform producer BeActive came on board as a production and distribution partner and is selling Road to Revolution content in a variety of formats for various platforms. It was made in association with Portuguese weekly magazine Sol and retail chain Sportzone.

The reporters set out on a 9,000 mile journey across ten countries in the Middle East to interview people and find out about the feelings and situations on the ground that led to such widespread unrest.

Off the back of its adventure doc project 350 South, BeActive had some experience of multimedia travel projects and set about building a website, Facebook page and blog. The writers then sent back video footage that BeActive edited into web shorts running between three and five minutes.

Following the reporters’ return a full feature doc was produced from their footage as well as a two-part TV series.

“We were editing the webisodes in the first half of 2012 and the reporters came back with more footage and stories and we found five characters in different countries that had been affected by the Arab Spring and made a feature-doc,” explains BeActive CEO Nuno Bernardo.

The resulting content is about the human stories behind the headlines and, largely in Arabic, in the voices of those who have felt the impact of the troubles. There is the story of the Syrian general who, disillusioned with the military campaign, switches sides and another about the family of Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruit seller whose self-immolation sparked the region-wide uprisings.

Each story link to the next and with its longer total run-time, the TV two-parter has extra footage not seen in the film. The film will be released theatrically in Portugal this month.

There is an English-language subtitled version and the package BeActive is shopping at MIP comprises the feature, two-part doc, 50 webisodes and a companion app that has updated information and relevant facts and news.

Broadcasters in the Middle East and Africa have expressed early interest as has PBS in the US. In Portugal SIC is expected to transmit the project. Bernardo says the show would work well for pubcasters or digital platforms including newspapers groups and streaming services.

“There are so many Western views about the region, but not many examples of the people there talking about how they have been affected. Europeans always talk about [The Arab Spring] in their own language, but this is real people talking in their language about how it has affected their lives.”


The show: Road to Revolution

The distributor: BeActive

The producers: BeActive, Sol, Sportzone

Formats: 1x90mins film, 2x52mins doc, companion app, 50 webisodes

The concept: Multimedia project about the human face of the Arab Spring

Target demo: Young, upscale, politically-aware viewers

Will perform well: In the Middle East and Africa, for public broadcasters, for digital platforms

Challenges: Largely Arabic-language and the fast-moving politics in the region could make it date quickly