Sofia Boutella hits the red carpet in Toronto

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Sofia Boutella poses on the black carpet during another event in Toronto. (AFP)  
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A still from ‘Climax.’  
Updated 11 September 2018
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Sofia Boutella hits the red carpet in Toronto

  • The film was screened at the 43rd edition of TIFF, which is set to run until Sept. 16

DUBAI: French-Algerian dancer, model and actress Sofia Boutella took to the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this week to promote her new film, “Climax.”
Witten and directed by Gaspar Noé, the film sees a group of young dancers gather in a remote, disused school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The gathering soon turns into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn that their drinks were laced with LSD.
The film was screened at the 43rd edition of TIFF, which is set to run until Sept. 16, alongside more than 300 features, short films, documentaries and world premieres.
Meanwhile, director Steve McQueen returned to the limelight at the film festival Sunday with an eagerly anticipated feminist heist movie, “Widows,” at a time when calls are multiplying for heftier roles for women.
It’s been five years since the British director released his last movie, “12 Years A Slave,” which won an Academy Award for best picture and other accolades.
His newest film, starring Viola Davis, was adapted from Lynda La Plante’s 1983-85 British television series, which McQueen says “just spoke to me as a 13-year-old black boy in London,” AFP reported.
In the film, Davis plays Veronica who lives a cushy life in Chicago paid for by her partner Rawlins (Liam Neeson), who makes money by robbing people.
When a job goes wrong leaving Rawlins’ gang dead, a local crime boss (Brian Tyree Henry) and his muscle (Daniel Kaluuya) come looking for the money, forcing Veronica to enlist the other women who lost their partners (Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo and Elizabeth Debicki) for a heist of their own, in order to win their lives back.
Also at the festival, nearly 200 men and women, among them Hollywood stars, rallied to call for equal pay and respect for women in film on Saturday.
Demonstrators shouted, “Women rock!” as they marched amid growing calls in the industry for more women-led storylines and meaty roles, and in the wake of the #MeToo movement brought into the spotlight by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Earlier, the festival’s head, Cameron Bailey, reiterated TIFF’s commitment to gender parity in the industry. The proportion of films by women screened at the festival this year was 35 percent, up slightly from 2017. There were also 136 female leads.
On the subject of diversity, the festival is also making headway in ensuring it offers an array of stories on screen, as well as among the ranks of the journalists covering its films.
Some 180 journalists and critics from underrepresented groups were granted credentials to the film festival, the Associated Press reported.
Toronto, along with the Sundance Film Festival, launched a “media inclusion initiative” in response to a study released in June by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. It found that of the 19,559 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for the top 100 box-office performers in 2017, 78 percent of reviews were written by male critics and 82 percent were by white critics.
To diversify its press corps, TIFF contacted freelance writers and videographers and it began asking all journalists, if they chose to, to provide personal details.


Kyrgyz singer receives death threats over feminist video

Updated 21 September 2018
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Kyrgyz singer receives death threats over feminist video

  • Zere Asylbek’s music video ‘Kyz’ became a sensation in the Central Asian country following its release last week
  • In the video Asylbek sings that ‘a time will come when nobody will tell me: Don’t wear it, don’t do it’

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: A 19-year-old singer in Kyrgyzstan has filed a complaint with police after receiving death threats over a music video she released targeting gender discrimination in the ex-Soviet republic.
Zere Asylbek’s music video “Kyz” became a sensation in the Central Asian country following its release last week but has angered conservatives who say it insults national values, focusing on the singer’s visible underwear.
Asylbek said that she had filed reports with police in the capital Bishkek after receiving numerous threats of physical violence including several death threats.
One threat posted by an anonymous Facebook profile to a group on the social media platform threatened to kill her if the video was not deleted.
Another user whose post Asylbek sent as a screenshot to AFP wrote that they “would gladly join” the first commentator, and “rip your head off.”
“Kyz,” which means girl in the Kyrgyz language had had more than 217,000 views on YouTube by Friday and is Asylbek’s first released song.
Asylbek said on Thursday that the video’s main message was to “respect the person you really are” while also “respecting the choices, opinions and ways of life of others.”
The video features Asylbek dressed in a suit jacket and skirt with a purple bra underneath, a woman wearing a hijab, a woman wearing a Kyrgzy-style headscarf and a woman with a partly shaved head, showing Kyrgyz society’s diversity.
In the video Asylbek sings that “a time will come when nobody will tell me: Don’t wear it, don’t do it.”
She also calls on the other women featured in the clip to “join me, create our own freedom.”
Asylbek said that she had expected her choice of different women representing different facets of society to be understood as provocative but was surprised at the online attention devoted to her purple bra.
In a Facebook post her father Asylbek Zhoodonbekov voiced support, calling his daughter “a free-thinking daughter of a free Kyrgyzstan.”
He said she had grown more politically conscious after a recent incident in which a man killed a young woman in a police station after attempting to abduct her for a forced marriage.
The murder in May sparked protests in Kyrgyzstan, a poor, majority-Muslim country where thousands of women are kidnapped for marriage every year in a practice dating back to the country’s nomadic past while law enforcement is accused of ignoring the problem.