Cumberbatch Cold War thriller is snapped up at Cannes

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the spy and businessman Greville Wynne in the thriller ‘Ironbark,’ who the CIA penetrate the Soviet nuclear program during the Cold War. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Cumberbatch Cold War thriller is snapped up at Cannes

CANNES: A Cold War spy thriller starring “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch has been one of the big sellers at the Cannes film festival, reports said Thursday.
“Ironbark” is based on the story of British spy and businessman Greville Wynne, who handled the double agent Oleg Penkovsky, a Russian military intelligence officer who tipped off Britain and the US about Soviet missiles in Cuba.
The information he fed through Wynne — who was arrested in Budapest and sentenced to eight years in prison in 1963 — was among the most important of the Cold War.
Rights to the film were sold out across the world, according to Variety, with distributors FilmNation later posting on Facebook that it “has been a pretty good Cannes.”
The US company has also sold out the rights to the starry all-female big-budget spy caper “355” starring Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Fan Bingbing, which was unveiled at Cannes.
Another Soviet era movie, “Gareth Jones,” about the Welsh writer of the same name, has also sparked a lot of interest at the festival.
The journalist, played by James Norton of “McMafia” fame, helped expose the Holodomor, the man-made famine that many blame on Stalin in early 1930s Ukraine in which millions died.
Polish director Agnieszka Holland has wrapped shooting in Poland and Ukraine, with finals scenes due to be filmed in Scotland later this month.


Saudi artists draw inspiration from Islam

Wafa Alqunibit says her work has its place in the Kingdom. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Saudi artists draw inspiration from Islam

  • Wafa Alqunibit: “The difficulties that I faced were getting the names on point, because a lot of them are very similar to each other

JEDDAH: The work of Saudi sculptor Wafa Alqunibit is on display in a Jeddah art gallery. A small glass box holds objects that have the appearance, shape and texture of dates. Only they are wrought from metal and glint silver and gold.
Alqunibit concedes that art can sometimes be a taboo subject in Saudi society, but says her work has its place.
“I do this to promote and represent our culture and religion as I belong to a very religious family. We have our freedom and we have open minds and I just wanted to portray this image to the world,” she told Arab News.
Her Instagram feed shows other examples of her art, including sculptures featuring the distinctive ringed and slightly curled horns of the Arabian oryx, and videos of her carving, sanding and sawing using machinery that can be seen in any carpentry or masonry workshop.
But her journey toward the arts — specifically sculpture — has not been straightforward.
“I went to Portland (in the US) to complete my doctorate in human resources. But I ended up changing my major to arts and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and they accepted me as a painter.”
But her professors thought she had different strengths — with one telling her she was born to be a tough person.
“At first I thought he was referring to me as an aggressive person, but later when I started sculpting I found out what he meant.”
She uses her work to communicate with people, especially those who misunderstand Islam, and recalled living in the US at a difficult time for Muslims.
“I took support from the arts, to tell people what we really are and now my artwork is displayed in so many galleries and I have been given the title of religious artist.”
Another artist taking inspiration from culture and religion is 26-year-old author Allaa Awad, who has taken the 99 names of Allah and turned them into poetry.
Her debut work, “Ninety-Nine: The Higher Power,” includes poems about purity, mercy, blessings and peace.
“I have encountered many people in life. They have a negative concept about life and God and I just wanted to turn that around and put my own perceptions of what I think God is, who He really is and how we should perceive Him,” she told Arab News.
She also experienced a struggle in her artistic journey, like Alqunibit did, but in a different way.
“The difficulties that I faced were getting the names on point, because a lot of them are very similar to each other. The best part was how people reacted to it on a spiritual level and how they were able to relate to what I had to say, rather than what online research had to say.”