Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes

Documenting the need to keep living and expressing oneself in a country at war, young Syrian film directors Said Al Batal and Ghiath Ayoub present 'Still Recording' at the "International Film Critics Week" of the Venice Film Festival. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes

  • “Still Recording,” a documentary by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, records what happened to two idealistic art students after they were swept up in the fervor of the Syrian revolution
  • There they struggle to keep a flicker of hope and creativity alive as they endure fighting, siege and famine

VENICE: A film that follows two friends through four nightmarish years of the Syrian civil war has lifted some of the top prizes at the Venice film festival, which ends Saturday.
“Still Recording,” a documentary by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, records what happened to two idealistic art students after they were swept up in the fervor of the Syrian revolution.
It picked up two awards at Venice Critics’ Week.
Friends Saeed and Milad leave Damascus and go to Douma in 2011, a suburb under rebel control, to set up a radio station and recording studio.
There they struggle to keep a flicker of hope and creativity alive as they endure fighting, siege and famine.
Ayoub and Al Batal, who shot 500 hours of footage, told AFP that with so little reporting coming out of Syria it was important to bear witness.
“We started doing this because there wasn’t, and still isn’t, an efficient working media in Syria because it’s not allowed to enter and if it is, it’s under the control of the regime,” said Al Batal.
“Art is nothing if it is not resistance, even if there isn’t revolution... it is resistance against a huge amount of emotions you have got inside you.
“Emotions need to come out and expressing them through art can do that,” he added.
The win comes as the Syrian regime and its Russian allies are preparing to launch an assault on Idlib, the northern province that is the last major stronghold of the rebel and jihadist groups which have been trying to overthrow Bashar Assad for the past seven years.
Al Batal said the situation in Syria “is more dangerous than ever now” because the Russian military are more ruthless than Assad’s badly trained soldiers.
“They know where to hit, and how to hit hard,” said Al Batal, who said the “media army behind them” was the same.


Rumors intensify as Football superstars meet at Salt Bae restaurant in Dubai

Updated 18 November 2018
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Rumors intensify as Football superstars meet at Salt Bae restaurant in Dubai

  • Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba met and talked at steakhouse in Dubai, which is owned by the famous Salt Bae
  • Both were in Dubai during the international break

DUBAI: Football fanatics were going crazy over an unexpected meeting between Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba in Salt Bae’s steakhouse in Dubai.

Manchester United midfielder Pogba, who last week withdrew from a game due to a thigh injury, was enjoying a break in Dubai when he bumped into Barcelona legend Messi.

Pogba posted a video of himself enjoying a lavish steak meal at the Nusr-Et in Dubai, as Salt Bae performed his iconic steak-slicing act. He reportedly sat with Messi, as they both had a “deep conversation,” according to local Manchester media.

Their meeting was met with both excitement and speculations about the possible transfer of Pogba to Barcelona, as the 25-year-old struggles with his relationship with Man United’s Jose Mourinho.

Barcelona center-back Gerard Pique recently showed excitement at the potential transfer.

“We will be happy to have him here, obviously. We want the best players to be at Barcelona,” Pique said.

The Premier League resumes next weekend and Pogba is looking forward to be back, as Manchester United’s medical department had said his injury wasn’t serious.