In March of 2020 a revolution will begin in Saudi Arabia. But the country’s royal family and even that now infamous bad boy MBS — as the crown prince is known for short — needn’t worry about getting ready with armies and bodyguards. They just need to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.Read More
On my last day in Doha, I spend the afternoon wandering around the Souq Waqif which I learned from a local filmmaker, literally translates as “the stand up souk.” In the olden days, before Qatar turned into the international, cosmopolitan country it is today, the sea would come straight into the alleys of the souk so the merchants had to stand up and pick up their wares during the tides. Thus the name, and actually while I wandered around checking out the shops, having a shawl sewn from a traditional flower fabric by a local tailor while drinking a karak chai (cardamon infused milky tea) and eating a chapatti flat bread filled with zaatar, I felt like I was transported back to those early days of the pearl divers and their haunting songs of the sea.
Doha is special place. I’ll never get tired of saying it. And their annual Qumra event, organized by the Doha Film Institute is sheer cinematic magic. Qumra is a meeting place, a five-days long networking session, a place to pitch, secure financing and ensure a screening chance for film projects. But it is also an occasion to recharge our collective passion for the movies. For journalists, producers and of course filmmakers, the atmosphere at Qumra offers an almost electric energy, a jolt of renewed hope in the future of the 7th art.Read More
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Actually, this edition of the Festival de Cannes turned out to be a missed opportunity, for media and juries alike to truly take charge of the #TimesUp movement and make of it a lasting course instead of a passing trend. Yes, there were stairs filled with women in pretty dresses, there were hotlines that we could call if we felt threatened or harassed, but ultimately the big prizes went to the big boys. As they have for every edition of the festival, except once, in 1993 when Jane Campion made history as the first and only woman to win the Palme d’Or.
Yet personally, I loved Cannes more than ever this year. I had a soft place to fall, in the form of a wonderful group of friends I spent my free time with, eating dinners we cooked together and drinking our morning coffee back at our cozy apartment with one breathtaking view. I mean, just look at the Disney fireworks for 'SOLO: A Star Wars Story' display from our terrace!Read More
The winner of the Palme d'Or has been announced and predictably, it's still a male-directed project. There are too few opportunities for us women around and when one of us seizes the chance, we must deal with men (boys?) putting up passive aggressive resistance all the way, and other women trying to take us down.
So, in my humble opinion this "5050X2020" movement which culminated as a red carpet moment may be fun to say and bound to light up with feminine glamour the famous staircase in Cannes, but it is not going anywhere until we aggressively and definitely take up our rightful place.
And yes, call me angry, go ahead. Make my day.Read More
This year the festival holds a lot of promise. Arab cinema is at its center with an unprecedented two films in Competition, Nadine Labaki's 'Capharnaüm' and Abu Bakr Shawky's 'Yomeddine', while there are of course quite a few other titles sprinkled among the sidebars, including Mohamed Ben Attia's 'Weldi'. A newly formed Saudi Film Council is occupying a harbor-side pavilion and offering wonderful panels (including one on Sunday the 13th at 11 moderated by yours truly and featuring Annemarie Jacir, Haifaa Al-Mansour, Lamia Chraibi and TIFF's own Cameron Bailey) as well as much welcomed Arabic coffee and dates. When I dropped by on a late afternoon I really cherished that cardamom and saffron infused shot of Arabia and the hospitality brought me back to my days in the Gulf.Read More
“Are you ready for us to make history again?!”
As I stepped into one of the magnificent Majlis — literally translating as a “place of sitting” from the Arabic — a meeting room inside the Madinat Jumeirah complex to catch up with the Chairman of the Dubai International Film Festival, Abdulhamid Juma uttered those words. I was taken aback for a moment and then I remembered that throughout the six years I’ve attended DIFF, I’ve sat down with him and together, we’ve come up with some of best questions about Arab cinema, its place in the world and its importance in dispelling stereotypes and breaking down walls.
This year, I came to DIFF with a heavy heart and I leave it still wondering if all the efforts — personal and collective have been worth it. We’ve witnessed how easily the mighty of the film stratosphere can be taken down in Hollywood when no longer of use to their business partners, destroying careers that should be looked at with respect, regardless of these men’s questionable behavior. We seem to have forgotten that “the casting couch” is a term as old as the movies themselves. Now we just “throw out the baby with the bathwater” as the old saying goes...Read More
What is heritage and how important is our connection to the past in shaping who we will be in the future? And if our ideals seem to clash with what our leaders are encouraging, or we simply can see beyond the chaos — are we right? Or does that make us just different... Those are all questions that have come up in the last 48 hours for me, at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival.Read More
Away from the main competition films featured in the Locarno Film Festival are two important sidebar sections which are filled with works of art worthy of the numerous audiences who attend their screenings. La Semaine de la Critique, Critics’ Week, and the Open Doors programs offer each and separately a fresh insight into modern groundbreaking filmmakers who will be the future maestros of our times. With Open Doors that even goes beyond the films we are watching on the big screen now, but bear with me before I get to that.Read More