Leading ladies touch down in Tunisia for new Manarat film festival

Dora Bouchoucha (center) is presiding over the festival. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Leading ladies touch down in Tunisia for new Manarat film festival

DUBAI: Some of the Middle East’s leading ladies made an appearance at the first-ever edition of the Manarat film festival in Tunisia this week, including Egypt-based actress Hend Sabri, Jordanian starlet Saba Mubarak and Tunis-born Dorra Zarrouk.
The film festival, which translates to mean “light house” in English, kicked off Tuesday with a screening of Gianfranco Rosi’s Oscar-nominated “Fuocoammare” and is set to run until July 15.
The 2016 film centers on the Italian island of Lampedusa, whose inhabitants are left shaken when waves of migrants land upon its shores.
Organizers delayed the official opening ceremony after eight members of Tunisia’s security forces were killed Sunday in a “terrorist attack” near the border with Algeria, the interior ministry said, the country’s deadliest such incident in over two years.
“In view of the painful events … (the ceremony) has been postponed until Tuesday, July 10.
May God bless our righteous martyrs,” a post on the festival’s official Facebook page read.
Presiding over the event is Tunisia’s first female film producer, Dora Bouchoucha, who also helmed Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival in 2008, 2010 and 2014.
In 2017, the Huffington Post called her “a born rebel, a trailblazer of wonderful self-assurance, elegance and beauty” and in 2018, she proved that she still has a lot to offer by attending the Cannes Film Festival premiere of the feature film her company, Nomadis Images, co-produced, “Weldi,” or “Dear Son” in English.
The festival aims to strengthen the relationship between Tunisia and countries in the Mediterranean Basin. To that end, organizers are putting on a show of more than 50 films, including movies from Egypt, Algeria, Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina, among various other countries.
Highlights include “Ghost Hunting,” a 2017 film by director Raed Andoni, and 2017’s “The Man Behind the Microphone,” which tells the story of Hedi Jouini, the so-called godfather of Tunisian music.
The festival will also feature a competition section that will see such films as “The Blessed,” an Algerian offering directed by Sofia Djama, and “A Ciambra,” directed by Itay’s Jonas Carpignano, go head to head for the top prize. The judging panel includes Lebanese actress Manel Issa, Egyptian actress Bushra Rozza and Palestinian actress Manal Awad.
Cinephiles can also enjoy a host of films that are set to be broadcast on public beaches, including La Goulette, La Marsa and Hammam-Lif among others.
For her part, Sabri set to be honored for one of her first-ever movies, 1994 drama “Samt El-Qusur” — “The Silences of the Palace” in English — and Rozza will get a nod from the organizers for her film on sexual harassment, “678.”
Six films to watch at the festival
Tunisia’s Manarat festival is set to run until July 15 and is showing 52 films from across the Arab world and beyond. Here, we take a look at some of the thought-provoking movies that will entertain audiences over the next few days.
‘Withered Green’
Directed by Mohamed Hammad, this Egyptian film tells the story of a defining week in protagonist Iman’s life as she attempts to convince her uncles to attend her younger sister’s engagement. However, a shocking discovery leads her to do away with such traditions. The film, which premiered in 2016, won the Muhr Feature Award for Best Director at the Dubai International Film Festival.
‘Ghost Hunting’
Director Raed Andoni placed a newspaper advert in Ramallah looking for former inmates of Jerusalem’s Moskobiya interrogation center in this 2017 film. The director then oversaw the creation of a replica of the interrogation facility using the memories of the former inmates and filmed the process, as well as interviews with the men.
‘Paradise Now’
This hard-hitting movie tells the story of two childhood friends who are recruited for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad and released in 2005, the film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the 2006 Academy Awards, but narrowly missed out. It did, however, win a Golden Globe in the same year.
‘The Man Behind the Microphone’
The 2017 film is a portrait of Hedi Jouini, the so-called godfather of Tunisian music. Directed by Claire Belhassine, it tells the tale of his rise to stardom, as well as his family life.
‘Men Don’t Cry’
Directed by Alen Drljevic, this 2017 film plays out in a boarded up Serbian hotel that plays host to a group of veterans undergoing therapy almost 20 years after the end of the Yugoslav Wars. The complexities of the period of hostility are explored through the men and their tangled relationships with one another as they try to battle their sense of shame years after the end of the violent conflict.
‘Laila’s Birthday’
Starring Mohammad Bakri, Areen Omari and Nour Zoubi and directed by Rashid Masharawi, this film tells the story of Abu Laila who finds himself driving a taxi to make ends meet. On his daughter’s seventh birthday, he tasks himself with finding her a cake, but the chaos of daily life in Palestine hampers his plans.


Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries. (Arab News)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

DUBAI: Art Dubai, the largest art fair in the Middle East, got off to a colorful start on Wednesday and more than 92 galleries showcased their chosen artists in the city’s Madinat Jumeriah.

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries, as well as a bevy of galleries from the UAE.  There are also a number of events going on around the city, as part of Art Week, including Art Nights at the Dubai International Financial Center, which took place on Tuesday. 

You can read more about Art Nights, and see the wild and wonderful art on show, here

Highlights include new gallery section Bawwaba, showcasing art from the Global South; UAE NOW - the first section of its kind - spotlighting local independent artist-run platforms and subcultures, their place in the UAE’s evolving landscape and contribution to creating new ways of thinking, theory and artistic movements and the Contemporary section — two gallery halls presenting work from 59 galleries from 34 countries by some of the most notable contemporary artists working today. It will make you smile, smirk and everything  in-between.

Art Dubai 2019 welcomes more than 500 artists representing 80 nationalities across its four gallery sections: Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, Bawwaba and Residents.

We take a look at six of our favorite artists and pieces here.

The diversity on show is notable, with galleries from Latin America placed next to booths from Beirut, Saudi Arabia and London.

Pablo del Val, Artistic Director of Art Dubai, said: “Art Dubai continues to develop original content to redefine what an art fair can be and contribute to the UAE and wider region’s cultural landscape. We represent an art world that is truly global and inclusive, rooted in artistic discovery and the promotion of new and alternative perspectives, community building, idea generation and cultural exchange. Geographies, galleries and artists, art typologies and thematics that are not often seen side-by-side, or even as part of the same conversation, will converge at the fair. We hope that new discoveries will be made and new synergies formed.”

It’s a melting pot of artistic expression and media, with sculptures, canvases and the odd video installation vying for space in the crowded halls.

There is a distinct focus on contemporary art, so if you’re into museum-worthy paintings, this may not be your cup of tea, but if you are willing to experiment, it’s the perfect spot to question the boundaries of art.

Battery-operated imaginary animals careened across the floor in one booth, while a fine spider’s web of black string formed an origami-like sculpture in another — anything goes at Art Dubai, as long as it’s not too risqué.

But, why tell you when we can show you? Scroll through the photo gallery to find out more about the art on show here.