‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy Barakah Meets Barakah. (Courtesy: El-Housh Productions)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
Updated 23 February 2018
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‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

LONDON: Saudi film stars Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi said the arrival of cinema in the Kingdom will help open up society and “share our narrative’’ with the world.
The pair — who are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy “Barakah Meets Barakah,” an Oscar submission for 2016’s Best Foreign Language Film — were speaking during a gathering at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, hosted by the Saudi British Society.
Set in Jeddah, the production was the first award-winning romantic comedy to come out of the Kingdom and became Saudi Arabia’s first film on Netflix.
Al-Banawi, who recently co-starred in the OSN series “Bashar,” emphasized the scope of cinema to “break stereotypes’’ by telling the stories of real people.
“We’re such a private society,” she said. “It’s important to share our narratives.’’
Fageeh, an actor and producer-director who made a name as a stand-up comedian on YouTube, said people in Saudi Arabia were hungry to tell their own stories.
He said many are interested in “taking back our narrative’’ and not having Western institutions dictate the direction of Saudi Arabia’s evolving film landscape, which he described as a “gorilla industry” at this stage.
“In Saudi Arabia, if you want somebody who’s a lighting guy, you get an electrician. You want an actor, you go ask somebody who’s got liberal parents,” he said.
“The more sophisticated our art will be, the more sophisticated the viewer can become.”
Opening the discussion, Alistair Burt, the UK minister for international development and the Middle East, described Saudi Arabia’s recent move to lift the ban on cinemas as “another exciting development in the Kingdom.’’
Praising the success of “Barakah Meets Barakah,” and confessing a preference for romantic comedies including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” the minister said that such films “tell us something very special about a society.’’
“Changing perceptions of the Islamic world is important,” he added. “Anything that helps build our relationships is very welcome.”


Elton John signs with Universal ‘for the rest of his career’

Updated 22 September 2018
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Elton John signs with Universal ‘for the rest of his career’

LONDON: Elton John has signed a deal with Universal Music Group for his back catalogue and any new work as well as brand management, merchandising and licensing rights, the company said on Friday.
Under the agreement signed with John’s company Rocket Entertainment, Universal Music Group (UMG) will represent the veteran British singer’s new music “for the rest of his career” on top of his work from the last 50 years.
“The multi-faceted agreement marks the beginning of a new era of expanded collaboration between Elton John and UMG and significantly expands their global business partnership,” the company said in a statement.
The agreement covers publishing rights to John’s “iconic song writing catalogue to be administrated by Universal Music Publishing Group long into the future.”
The group’s brand-management company Bravado will work with Rocket on merchandising, branding and retail licensing around the singer’s three-year final world tour, “Farewell Yellow Brick Road.”
No financial details of the deal were given.
The 71-year-old kicked off the tour in the United States this month. John, who has two children with husband David Furnish, has said he wanted to stop traveling to focus on family life.