Patrick Stewart raves about ‘sensational’ Louvre Abu Dhabi

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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
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Legendary actor Patrick Stewart took to the stage at the Dubai International Film Festival. (Arab News)
Updated 10 December 2017
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Patrick Stewart raves about ‘sensational’ Louvre Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Legendary actor Patrick Stewart, known for iconic roles in some of film’s biggest franchises and his years in British theater, raved about his experience at the Louvre Abu Dhabi while on stage at the 14th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).
“We went to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and if you have yet to see it — I know it’s only been open for a little more than three weeks — it’s sensational,” Stewart said. “The collection is good, but the way it is organized is what makes it unique — unlike any other gallery or museum I’ve been in.”
Stewart also had kind words about his third visit in the UAE, and the one in which he has been able to finally establish personal connections with the people of the country.
“There is such kindness, such generosity, such welcoming and modesty. We’ve enjoyed it immensely.”
Stewart is himself beloved audiences across the world for his portrayals of Captain Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and its subsequent films and Professor Charles Xavier of the “X-Men” film franchise.
A final goodbye, and a possible return
Earlier this year, Stewart portrayed Charles Xavier for the final time in “Logan” (2017), which was also the swan song for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. It was not until he finally saw the film on the big screen that he knew that this was the end, he told an enraptured DIFF audience.
“Hugh and I were sitting side by side and we were so moved by the last 15 to 20 minutes of the film. I still find it hard to watch the last 20 minutes. As the credits rolled, as Hugh gripped my hand, which he had taken about halfway through, as he was emotional as I was, I thought that there couldn’t be a better ‘au revoir’ to Charles Xavier than what I had witnessed. This was the perfect farewell to this franchise. At the next morning’s press conference, I announced, ‘me too, I’m done’.”
While Stewart has said his final goodbyes to X-Men, he also opened the door to returning to his other most famous role. It’s been more than 15 years since Stewart last played Star Trek’s beloved Captain Picard on the big screen. When the film series rebooted with a new cast and direction, many gave up hope that they would ever see the legendary actor helm the USS Enterprise again.
Stewart was quoted as late as Dec. 5 2017 saying he would never return to Star Trek. Now, something has changed his mind.
“I’ve recently heard whispers that a certain person by the name of Quentin Tarantino might be looking at some Star Trek ideas,” Stewart said “It seems improbable, doesn’t it? There’s no director on earth — yes I’d love to work with Steven Spielberg — but Tarantino is my hero. I so want to be in one of his movies. If he were to take a Tarantino-esque view of Star Trek, that might be interesting. I only recently heard these whispers.”
He would not, however, offer Tarantino any advice on how to approach the franchise.
“From my mouth, not a word. When there are masters around, I’m not going to dabble in directing. I’m going to let them get on with it. Hope they cast me!”
A look back at his younger self
Stewart was open, candid and personal with the Dubai audience, telling stories from his childhood and detailing his moments of self-doubt and the challenges he has faced in his years as an actor.
“My home life was chaotic and at times dangerous, but the stage, I found, from the moment I stepped onto it, was the safest place I had ever been,” Stewart said about his life growing up in a poor area in England. “This was for a number of reasons, none of which I knew at the time, but of course because of high class extensive therapy in Los Angeles, I know now what was going on.”
“In a play, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is planned out, and rehearsed,” Stewart went on. “There is no chaos. There are not any surprises. It is all known and predictable. Also, on stage, I was not being Patrick Stewart, of whom I didn’t have a particularly high opinion. I was someone else. I so much more enjoyed being someone else than being Patrick Stewart. It’s something of a confession, but I have to say, I still feel the same way about what I do.”
The cinema was also a place for Stewart to escape, when he was young. “The houselights would come up and it was over, and I had to quickly struggle to wipe away my tears before I got up and went into the street. I didn’t want to go back there.”
The movie that changed his life was On the Waterfront (1954), which portrayed poverty much like that he grew up in.
“I didn’t know people made movies about me or families like mine. The world that those poor people in those tenements inhabited in On the Waterfront was not very far from my world. That’s when I had the enlightenment that cinema can also be about a world that is not fantasy, that is real and dark and painful and troubling. That was an important night in my life.”
Stewart finished with a plea to the audience to learn from the mistakes he made in his career by being too afraid to fail.
“I was actually hiding for years and years, hiding because I was either afraid or didn’t believe that I had anything personal to contribute. I always listened to everybody else,” Stewart confessed.
Stewart only stopped being afraid of failure 15-20 years ago, he said.
“Now, I am so fascinated by acting as a process of inner revelation, of the emotions and feelings being my own. I’m excited about anything that anybody asks me to do, because I can explore even further this personal, private, inner life, which I can share.”


Black Tunisians push for equality, in face of racism

Tunisian men walk past shops on the resort island of Djerba on October 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Black Tunisians push for equality, in face of racism

  • On October 9, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a landmark law penalizing the use of racist words, the incitement of hatred and discrimination
  • “The worst thing is, it’s a cemetery next to a mosque where the imams call for equality and respect,” Douiri said

DJERBA, Tunisia: Tunisian Nadia Borji says she wants to be considered as equal but fears she will end up buried in her town’s so-called “slaves” cemetery — because she is black.
Black Tunisians, including some descended from slaves, make up a minority that is barely visible in the north African country.
Many hope for greater equality after a law was passed last month criminalizing all forms of racism.
“This term ‘slave’ disturbs me enormously. It shouldn’t still exist!” protested Borji, who came to her mother’s grave to read a prayer.
Black residents still bury their dead in a poorly maintained piece of land, full of earthen tombs covered with parched plants near Houmt Souk, on the island of Djerba.
Two other cemeteries lie a stone’s throw away — reserved for people with light skin.
“We are accustomed to knowing that it is abnormal to suffer such discrimination,” said 46-year-old Borji.
Her cousin Dorra Douiri directed her anger toward a “racist and very painful” societal schism.
“The worst thing is, it’s a cemetery next to a mosque where the imams call for equality and respect,” Douiri said.
The head of a municipal district in Houmt Souk acknowledged that cemeteries should not be separated.
“Cemeteries for slaves and cemeteries for free people — it is a phenomenon that exists and must be addressed,” said Mourad Missaoui.
Unlike the major cities of Tunis and Sfax, Djerba residents bury their dead without requiring permission from the council.
This means their burial place can still be decided by social status and even their skin color, he told AFP.

Slavery was formally abolished in Tunis and in part of what forms modern day Tunisia in 1846.
On October 9, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a landmark law penalizing the use of racist words, the incitement of hatred and discrimination.
These crimes are now punishable by three years in prison and a 5,000 euro (5,600 dollar fine).
Racism remains “well anchored in the minds of many Tunisians,” said Saadia Mosbah, president of M’nemty, an association that defends minorities.
Last month’s law is an acknowledgement by the state that racism persists — but the law must now be applied, he added.
“The real work starts now,” he said.
But there could be a long battle ahead.
“There is no harmony between legal texts and what happens” in reality, said municipal leader Missaoui.
Town halls on Djerba even use a designation widely perceived as being highly racist on slave descendants’ birth certificates.
The word in question is “atig” — a prefix followed by the name of the master who granted freedom to the ancestors of the certificate holder.
In the absence of popular pressure to withdraw the designation — or a directive from the government — the word and “its racist connotations” will continue to be applied by town halls, said Missaoui.

In the city of Medenine and the large village of Gosba, around 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Djerba, most people are black and many of them complain of racism.
“Our village is extremely marginalized, because of the color of our skin,” decried 27-year-old Mohamed, as he played cards on the floor of shop.
“We have no cafes, no cultural houses, no proper buildings — absolutely nothing,” he complained. “There is only contempt.”
“It is not this law that will protect the region. It requires above all investment... for residents, who are considered second class Tunisians,” he said.
In Gosba, marriage between a black and white Tunisian is socially rejected.
“You can be the most handsome and rich man, (but) you’ll always be black and they will never accept you marrying a white woman,” said 61-year-old grocer Ali Koudi.