Most directors whose features you are watching in cinemas today started out making short films. It’s a fact that short narratives and documentaries are the stuff future filmmaker build their craft on and the Ca 'Foscari Short Film Festival recognizes that through and through. In their press release for the upcoming ninth edition of the event, which will run from March 20th to the 23rd, the following statement made me realize just how much they believe in the learning power of the ‘Short”.Read More
Ever since its creation in 2010 on the peninsular country of Qatar, the Doha Film Institute has been revolutionizing cinema in the Region. The word “revolution” is never a sign of good things in the Arab world and yet at DFI, they should welcome the term when it comes to describing the work they’ve been doing almost singlehandedly to create and foster a healthy cinema culture in the Arab world. And beyond.Read More
They say if you want to learn about something, go to the source.
For filmmakers in the Middle East, but also around the world, Elia Suleiman has long been the Oracle, the man with a knowledge to create momentous cinema, cinema that can change the world. Suleiman is the most brilliant source today of modern Arab cinema, the kind that breaks across borders and tears down the divide -- as his frequent trips to international film festivals and award ceremonies have proved.
So I thought, if it works for filmmakers, it could work for me. I shall ask Suleiman about Qumra myself, so I can unravel the mystery of this yearly event held in Qatar, under the auspices of the Doha Film Institute. I mean, the DFI has been very open and forthcoming about their week-long-mentorship-slash-industry-meet-and-greet-slash-film-connection event, but I still hadn't found a fascinating enough explanation of it in the media. One that would hold my attention and really explain the ins and out of Qumra.
Until I met Suleiman, DFI's Artistic Advisor and Hanaa Issa, Deputy Director of Qumra and Director of Strategy and Development at Doha Film Institute during Berlinale. One Sunday morning in Berlin, a leisurely breakfast talk later and now eagerly anticipating the start of Qumra in Doha, I finally understand.Read More
Thankfully, at this year's Berlinale, there are a couple of films in Competition which go against everything that a "competition film" should be. Whatever that definition is. I applaud the festival organizers for having had the courage to show them, and their continued support of indie voices.
One such film is Mani Haghigi's 'Pig' ('Khook') a wild colorful, humorous, dark and fresh ride through the Iranian film industry. Now wild and colorful, with women protagonists who run the show is hardly a definition one would typically associate with Iranian cinema and yet Haghigi manages it all.Read More
When I sat with the maestro Lav Diaz for our interview for his Competition film 'Season of the Devil', he pointed to the film critics, the journalists who write about cinema, as an integral part of the filmmaking process. And I agree wholeheartedly with the genius that is Diaz, a man who, in this age of everything fast and immediate, still makes films that lull us into watching them for four and a half hours! He teaches us how to watch his cinema, and I believe as film writers, we hold a responsibility to teach audiences to find those films.Read More
The 21st century version of the all-American question "where were you when JFK was assassinated?" is "what were you doing when the planes hit the World Trade Center?"
Some of us watched the towers disintegrate before our very eyes, our landscape changed forever, and it's a vision, a feeling we will carry inside our hearts for as long as we live. The smell throughout downtown Manhattan, the lines of demarcation -- complete with checkpoints -- between the northern and southern parts of the city but also the newfound sense of camaraderie we bestowed upon each other to merely get from day to day, is also what I remember from those days.Read More
There are several films this year at the Berlinale that explore the theme of family. Or rather, set out to redefine it. In 'Daughter of Mine', Laura Bispuri asks, cinematically, just who our mother is -- the woman who physically brings us into this world, or the person who rears us? For most of us they are both within one person, but in rare cases, it's not.
Also present during this 68th edition of the Berlin Film Festival is a sub current of childhood, attempting to view this chaotic, pretty damn ugly world of ours at the moment through a child's eye view. Wes Anderson kicked that off in style with the opening film 'Isle of Dogs' and now I keep finding myself looking at what I watch from his "I don't want to grow up" POV.Read More
The day started with a long, leisurely talk with Algerian-Brazilian, NYC-based filmmaker Karim Aïnouz and the two men who are the center of his latest film, 'Central Airport THF' -- Ibrahim Al Hussein from Syria and Qutaiba Nafea from Iraq. I won't talk about the film itself until it premieres tonight since the festival here in Berlin is quite strict about embargoes and more power to them for that! But I will say that some films really grow more special and important once the intention of their filmmaker becomes clear. In simpler words, sitting down with Aïnouz made his latest project wildly more interesting, because of who he is but also because of his subjects' backstories -- both refugees who are in Germany after escaping from their war-torn countries.Read More
This year, at Berlinale, the annual film festival held in Berlin, there is media chatter of a red carpet that should have been black in honor of the #MeToo movement. In my country a black carpet means someone died so I wonder, do we want to open a film festival, a festive event by definition, with a gloom and doom parade of stars on a drab black piece of carpeting? Isn't it enough that we woke up on its inauguration day to the news of yet one more totally avoidable shooting in the US?Read More
A movie festival is nothing without films and I kicked off my first full day at Berlinale by watching Wes Anderson's animated treasure 'Isle of Dogs' featuring puppets like you've never seen them before, beloved actors giving voices to fantastical dogs and a message of humanity hidden within a film that is so darn entertaining to watch, I may have to go back for seconds. Or thirds even. I know you've heard me talk like this before, but this time I mean it in a whole new and different way: If I went home today, I'd be happy, after watching 'Isle of Dogs'.Read More
My third and last day of Pitti Uomo 93, Fall/Winter 2018-19 collections held some surprises. Most were pleasant, welcomed discoveries of designers who hadn’t been on my radar, and now forever more will be. Yet one, at the very end of the day was a disturbing reminder that the #MeToo movement needs to evolve, and include models, young men and children. If we don’t protect every victims — not just the attractive women stars of Hollywood who are looking for a second wind in their career — we are failing allthe injured.Read More