Kurdish women fighters film sparks Cannes row

French film ‘Girls of the Sun’ team during a photocall at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2018
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Kurdish women fighters film sparks Cannes row

  • ‘Girls of the Sun’ depicts a platoon of Yazidi women battling the extremists.
  • The movie is set in Kurdistan in the days leading up to the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people died.

CANNES, France: A harrowing film about Kurdish women fighters taking on Daesh terrorists sparked a furious row between critics at the Cannes film festival on Sunday — with some being accused of misogyny.

“Girls of the Sun,” which follows a platoon of Yazidi women battling the extremists who had enslaved them and their children, was premiered at the same time as one person was killed and four others wounded in a knife attack in Paris claimed by Daesh.

The movie, with Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani as a lawyer who picks up an AK47 to lead the Sun Brigade of survivors, is set in Kurdistan in the days leading up to the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people died.

The premiere followed a historic protest on the Cannes red carpet by Hollywood stars and female filmmakers demanding equal pay and an end to sexism.

But as the curtain came down, a shouting match erupted at a nearby screening for critics.

A small number who had booed the film were shouted down by others, who accused them of disrespecting the film’s female director and cast.

“It’s not about you, dude. Not your time to talk,” one said.

A still from the controversial film, ‘Girls of the Sun.’

The divide was equally stark in the first reviews published Sunday, with the French magazine Telerama calling the war film “naive and inconsequential,” while others said it was a “disservice to a noble cause.”

But IndieWire’s David Ehrlich said it was impossible not to be moved by it and called it a “surefire Palme (d’Or) contender,” referring to the festival’s top prize.

He conceded that there “was a little too much paprika on the sandwich where none would have done nice, but (French director) Eva Husson is one hell of a filmmaker.”

French Producer Claudine Nougaret Depardon took to Twitter to condemn the “misogynous and condescending attitude to this beautiful and courageous film.”

She said: “Let’s fight to demand the early retirement for these (male) critics.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw also rallied to its defense, hailing it as a rousing “feminist war movie: Impassioned, suspenseful, angry.”

While admitting that some might find it naive and “unsophisticated.... for me it is heartfelt, forthright and muscular.”

But several French critics excoriated Husson’s handling of the story, arguing that some of the women characters were paper thin.

The Hollywood Reporter was also critical of its “narrative histrionics and a tear-jerking score worthy of a Walt Disney movie.”

But it praised Husson for “shining a light on an important and terrifying story that made headlines a few years ago but has since been forgotten by many of us.”

Overall, critic Jordan Mintzer called it “a meaty all-female war movie served with an extra slice of cheese.”


SemSem’s Ramadan line has a charitable twist

US-Somali model Halima Aden has worked with SemSem in the past.
Updated 48 min 53 sec ago
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SemSem’s Ramadan line has a charitable twist

Famed French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent once said that the city of Marrakesh taught him color. It seems that the Moroccan city has struck again, serving as the inspiration for SemSem’s bold Ramadan line this season.

With its mélange of cultural currents and cosmopolitan charge, the bustle of Marrakesh is manifest in SemSem’s red-based collection. A brassy fire-engine trench and gilded-blush maxi are among the highlights of the edit, available exclusively at luxury e-tailers The Modist and Ounass.

For those seeking bold, iftar-appropriate looks this season, SemSem’s berry-red jumpsuit or high-low hemmed jacquard top are both beautiful, souk-inspired statement pieces.  Floral prints appearing throughout the collection recall the Majorelle garden, Saint Laurent’s lush Marrakesh property. 

Separates, including tailored pants befitting the refined city-stroller, can be paired with the collection’s pleated tops or layered for dramatic effect. 

Self-consciously eschewing derivatives of slouched kaftans, the pieces all feature refined, structured cuts. True to the brand’s aesthetic, SemSem’s Ramadan collection is an unabashed ode to modern, metropolitan femininity.

 Founder Abeer Al-Otaiba, who originally hails from Egypt, says this year’s Ramadan edit was “deeply personal.

“I wanted it to be beautiful, impactful and reflective of my heritage,” Al-Otaiba said.  “I enjoy the sense of purpose Ramadan represents and I try to embrace all that it has to offer. Creating this collection is an extension of this time of introspection and celebration.”

A dedicated philanthropist with a degree in civil engineering and stints spent living across the Middle East, Europe and America, Al-Otaiba created SemSem in 2015 as a way to celebrate women and children across the globe. Bestowing the label with her daughter’s nickname, Al-Otaiba’s vision has allowed SemSem to mature in a few short years, emerging at the forefront of the luxury, ready-to-wear market.

With lines for both women and girls, the brand has become a favorite of multi-tasking mothers seeking balance and an elegant wardrobe with a charitable sense of purpose. Every season, Al-Otaiba teams up with a non-profit promoting the well-being of women and children. 

This year, 10 percent of the sales from the brand’s Ramadan collection sold at Ounass will go to causes supported by the Dubai Cares charity.

Previously, Al-Otaiba sought to raise awareness about maternal mortality rates and youth illiteracy, supporting organizations working across Africa to empower women and children. 

Insisting on the confluence of doing good and dressing well, SemSem has become a celebrity favorite, worn by conscientious Hollywood moms like Blake Lively and Kourtney Kardashian. 

Showing at Paris Fashion Week and regularly written up in Vogue, SemSem has brought a jet-set chic to mother-daughter wear. 

But the line’s ethos isn’t about red-carpet glitter. Encouraging mothers to instill a sense of global awareness and dedication to philanthropy in their daughters lies at the heart of SemSem’s mission. It’s a perfect conversation — and the perfect conversation-provoking ensembles— to have this Ramadan season.