Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri feels vindicated by Oscar nomination

Ziad Doueiri
Updated 29 January 2018
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Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri feels vindicated by Oscar nomination

AMMAN: Along with an endless list of “thank yous,” Oscar winners often use their acceptance speeches to recount the difficult road they took to make their films.
For the Lebanese director of “The Insult,” which has been nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film, the path was rockier than most.
Ziad Doueiri has been arrested, grilled by a military panel, had his film boycotted and risked seeing it banned in his home country.
The controversial filmmaker told Arab News that the Oscar nomination he received last week has vindicated him and his team.
“When I heard the news of the film’s nomination I was extremely happy for Lebanon and for the people who worked so hard with me to make this film a reality,” he said by phone from Paris.
Set in modern day Beirut, “The Insult” tells the story of how a relatively minor personal clash between a Christian and a Palestinian refugee spirals out of control to become a national scandal that reopens the wounds of Lebanon’s civil war.
The film has been the target of censors and campaigners in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region because of the director’s previous work in Israel.
The source of the controversy surrounds an earlier feature film “The Attack,” which Doueiri shot in Tel Aviv. Due to decades of hostility and Israeli military aggression toward Lebanon, Lebanese law forbids its citizens from traveling to Israel. The two countries are still technically in a state of war.
After a heated campaign, that film was banned in Lebanon and his new film is not being shown in the West Bank.
Doueiri, 54, who left Lebanon to study in the US in the 1980s and now lives between Paris and Beirut, said he had to fight tooth and nail just to get people to see “The Insult.”
In September, shortly before the premiere. the director was arrested after he landed in Beirut and questioned by a military court, but was not charged with any offense.
“We were at the edge of being banned in Lebanon and many of my opponents tried to pressure the Lebanese government not to nominate the film (for an Academy Award),” Doueiri said.
The film has also not yet been shown in Jordan. Mohammed Qtaishat, the head of the Jordan Media Commission, told Arab News that the film was approved with the need to edit a short scene.
“The law is very clear that we can’t approve any film or parts of it that can produce civil disturbance that threatens the fabric of society.”
Arab News has learned that the six minutes that the Media Commission wants to cut deals with Black September, the 1970 conflict in Jordan between Palestinian militants and the Jordanian military.
Doueiri has refused to have the film screened anywhere with any of its scenes deleted. He said he hopes the entire film can be shown in Palestine and Jordan and other countries.
“We are now in discussion about the distribution of the film also in Egypt and north Africa and hope to have it also shown in the Gulf region,” he said.
Kamel El-Basha, the lead actor in the film, said he hopes that a solution can be found so that the film can be seen and judged by people rather than held hostage by militants.
“There is so much exaggeration and taking positions without much facts that we are hurting each other for no good reason,” he told Arab News.
The actor, a Palestinian from Jerusalem, became the first Arab to win the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival last year. But he said he has mixed feelings about the Oscar nomination.
“To be honest, I am both happy and sad about this nomination. This is a good film and a nice story with implications further than the Arab world. It talks about the struggle between immigrants and natives, a major topic of discussion around the world today.”
However, El-Basha is sad that Palestinians have not seen the film. The movie was scheduled to be the high point of the Ramallah International Film Festival in October but was withdrawn because of pressure from a small group of campaigners.
“I am sad and pained because of the way politics is affecting art in our region,” El-Basha said.


Joss Stones says Saudi women are ‘strong’ after performing in the country

Updated 27 June 2019
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Joss Stones says Saudi women are ‘strong’ after performing in the country

  • The singer performed on June 23
  • She said Saudi men are helping the women with the change in the country

DUBAI: English singer and songwriter Joss Stone said she loved Saudi Arabia and that she hopes to visit again, through her personal social media accounts.

According to her Twitter account, the singer performed on June 23 with the help of a Saudi-based travel and event company.

Stone said she had the “sweetest gig” in Saudi Arabia.

The songwriter posted an image of herself wearing a pink niqab on her Instagram account, recounting her experience of the country in detail.

She decided to keep the headcover on even though she didn’t have to because she fell in love with it, Stone said.

View this post on Instagram

Oh #saudiarabia how we love you so ! I cannot wait to tell everyone I meet to go visit this beautiful place filled with beautiful people yet again, pleasantly surprised. Took me a while to figure out how to keep this wrap from falling off and then when I finally got it I realised that I didn’t even have to wear it. What a shame ! So I wore it anyway because I love it. I love the different cultures we get a chance to come across and become part of, even if it’s for just one small tiny moment. It means so much. The women here are strong and exercising their choice to be free, wear what they want and do what they want, their want may be different to what we experience at home but there ain’t nothing wrong in that. To each her own. I spoke to female doctors , managers, directors, vocal specialists, hearing specialists, carers, a singer/performer/artist and they all tell the same tale. The horses mouth has spoken. Yes there are horrible things going on all over the world in many different corners and crevasses but these women individually felt they were not oppressed , they were highly educated and free to choose how they lived their lives. I can only ever speak of those that I have met, I will not comment on what I have not seen with my own eyes because I have no right to. Assumption really is not something I wish to entertain. if you don't know , go have a look for yourself have a look for your self. I have come away from this inspired. Not just by the women but the men too, with how they are celebrating the changes that are happening in Saudi Arabia they are not fighting against it as so many might assume . It seems to me that they are all walking forward together trying to make there world a better place. This is the feeling I got from my personal experience. I would really like to go back one day and explore this place further . Thanks for having me #saudiarabia

A post shared by Joss Stone (@jossstone) on

She praised Saudi women, saying they are strong and exercise their own will. She spoke to a number of women from different professions in Saudi Arabia before coming to that conclusion.

“The women here are strong and exercising their choice to be free, wear what they want and do what they want, their want may be different to what we experience at home but there ain’t nothing wrong in that,” the singer said.

Stone also praised Saudi men for not fighting against the changes in the country, and said “it seems to me that they are all walking forward together trying to make [their] world a better place.”

The concert was part of the singer’s ‘Total World Tour,’ where she tries to perform in every country.

She has already visited Jordan, Oman, Syria and North Korea, among numerous other destinations.