Uproar in Egypt after movie star lets rip over shaky screen

Egyptian actor Ahmed El-Fishawy
Updated 26 September 2017
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Uproar in Egypt after movie star lets rip over shaky screen

CAIRO: On balance, it was perhaps not the most diplomatic word to describe the cinema screen for the Arab premiere of your new movie.
The actor Ahmad El-Fishawy was unhappy that gusts of wind at the open-air venue for El-Gouna Film Festival in Egypt were making the screen wobble.
“I do not know how it will be easy for us to watch the movie on this … display,” he said, speaking in Arabic on live television, and using a four-letter word best confined to the bathroom.
There was immediate uproar on social media and elsewhere — detracting somewhat from the impact of the movie, “Sheikh Jackson,” which Egypt has submitted in the foreign-language section at next year’s Academy Awards.
Celebrities such as the TV presenter Amr Adib and the Egyptian actress Ghada Abdel Razek criticized El-Fishawy over the remark. Others stood by the actor, saying he had made a mistake but the word was no big deal.
In particular, the film’s director, Amr Salama, was not pleased. “A total of three years of effort were put in by more than 100 people to make ‘Sheikh Jackson,’ and 35 years of my life to be the person who can write it … but on the opening day, the attention was focused on a word said by one of the actors,” he said.
“There’s a feeling of frustration among all of us that our effort has been destroyed because of one person’s behavior.”
The art critic Magda Khairallah told Arab News: “As usual, people will ignore the opening of an important event like El-Gouna Film Festival, and the value of a film like ‘Sheikh Jackson,’ and dedicate all their effort to attack El-Fishawy over the incident.
“It is true that the screen was shaking and unclear, until the film was stopped and played from the beginning. The work deserves to be praised, so let’s not focus on a blunt remark that was not intended to hurt anyone.”
Later, a repentant El-Fishawy said he had not intended to belittle any of the hard work being put in at the festival. “I just wanted people to see ‘Sheikh Jackson’ on a screen that wasn’t blurry,” he said.
The film tells the story of Sheikh Khalid Hani, a fictional Muslim preacher who idolizes Michael Jackson, and hears on his car radio that the singer is dead. Distraught, he crashes his car.
The movie relates his crisis of conscience on a journey to discover his own identity, mirroring how Egypt’s conservative society is torn between its Islamic and Arab traditions and Western culture.
“It’s about humanity,” director Salama was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “It tells you that one’s identity is not a single dimension or an unchangeable thing.”


Lebanon’s seabed yields its historic secrets

Updated 20 min 28 sec ago
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Lebanon’s seabed yields its historic secrets

  • Divers find pottery and stone in shipwrecks dating back 2,300 years
  • Diiscoveries are from Alexander the Great’s siege of Tyre in 332 BC

Forty meters down, on the Mediterranean seabed off the coast of Lebanon, the divers knew they were looking at history.

Among the shipwrecks they investigated this month at 11 sites south of the city of Tyre, they found pottery and stone that had been there for more than 2,300 years.

“The shape of the pottery confirms that it dates back to more than 332 BC,” said the Lebanese archaeologist Dr. Jafar Fadlallah.

Mohammed Al-Sargi, captain of the diving team that found the wrecks, is even more certain. “The pottery and stone found on these wooden ships indicate that they were part of the campaign of Alexander the Great, who in 332 BC attempted to capture the city of Tyre, which was then an island,” he said.

“According to the history books, Alexander built a causeway linking the mainland to the island. These vessels might have been used to transport the stone required for the construction of the road, but due to the heavy loads and storms, they might have sunk.”

UNESCO recognized the archaeological importance of Tyre in 1979, when it added the city to its list of World Heritage Sites. Lebanon’s Directorate of Antiquities, in cooperation with European organizations, has carried out extensive excavations since the 1940s to uncover its historical secrets. They have revealed that the ancient maritime city included residential neighborhoods, public baths, sports centers, and streets paved with mosaics. The discoveries date back to the Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine periods.

During the Phoenician era, Tyre played an important role as it dominated maritime trade. It contributed to the establishment of commercial settlements around the Mediterranean and the spread of religions in the ancient world. It also resisted occupation by the Persians and the Macedonians, choosing to remain neutral in the struggle between the two bitter enemies. However, Macedonian king Alexander the Great considered gaining control of the island and establishing a naval base there to be a key to victory in the war, and he set out in January 332 BC to conquer it at any cost.

The area in which the diving team discovered the wrecks is “an underwater desert with no valleys or seaweed, a few hundred meters from the coast of Tyre,” said Al-Sargi.

“We found 11 sites, some of them close to each other and others far apart. In each location, there were piles of stones and broken pots.

“We continued to explore the sites quietly to keep away fishermen and uninvited guests. We sought the help of archaeologists, who assured us that the discovery rewrites the history of the city, and specifically the campaign of Alexander the Great. So, we decided to put the discovery in the custody of the General Directorate of Antiquities for further exploration and interpretation.”

The most recent find, which Al-Sargi described as a “time capsule,” is only the latest important discovery made by the team in Lebanon.

“In 1997, the divers discovered the submerged city of Sidon,” Al-Sargi continued. “In 2001, we discovered the city of Yarmouta opposite the Zahrani area. In 1997, we discovered sulfuric water in the Sea of Tyre. We conducted studies on fresh-water wells in the sea off the city coast.

“We are not archaeologists and we cannot explain what we have seen. Our role is to inspect and report to the relevant Lebanese authorities and abide by the law.”

Fadlallah, an archaeologist with 40 years experience of working at Lebanon’s ancient sites, picks up the story to explain what he believes to be the significance of the discovery at Tyre.

“The sites are about 700 meters from where Tyre beach was when it was an island,” he said. “The piles of stones were 50 meters to 200 meters apart and the pots seemed to have been broken by a collision because there was not one left intact. This means that these stones and pots were on ships and there was a violent collision between them.”

He said that studies of the remains of the pots suggest that they are of Greek origin.

“There are various forms of them,” he said, “and it is clear that the ships that were carrying them were related to the ships of Alexander the Great during his campaign on Tyre, and they appear to have been hit by storms.”

There are, of course, always skeptics — among them Dr. Ali Badawi, director of archaeological sites in the south at Lebanon’s General Directorate of Antiquities. The pots alone did not constitute sufficient “evidence that the ships belonged to the campaign of Alexander the Great,” he said.

“What was published by the captain of the divers contains unclear details, and the subject should be based on scientific explanations. I think that the sea is wide and piracy was possible at the sites of the submerged ships.

“Exploration operations are taking place in the breakwater area, involving a French mission and Lebanese archaeologists. Before that, a Spanish expedition along with marine archaeologists participated in examining the remains of a ship dating back to the BC era.

“Ship exploration is very expensive, and the city of Tyre was subjected to numerous military siege campaigns and many ships sank. But this does not mean that we will not investigate this new discovery, according to the instructions of the minister of culture.”