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.


Startup of the Week: Purple Brain to raise media standards

Updated 14 min 30 sec ago
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Startup of the Week: Purple Brain to raise media standards

  • Purple Brain is mainly focused into the commercial world, which is tough and competitive, not only here but worldwide

JEDDAH: Purple Brain in Jeddah is a production and content house whose services range from illustration and animation to writing and producing films and commercials.
It was founded in March, 2017 by Otbah Rayess and cofounder Maria Mahdaly after the success of a campaign they have created together, and won awards on “Try Local”, films made in collaboration with Destination KSA. The two realized that there is a high demand for content in the region, and more so now in Saudi Arabia.
Rayess said that Purple Brain was born in line with Saudi Vision 2030. “Purple Brain works closely with a lot of entities to develop beautiful and unique content from Saudi Arabia to the world, which is perfectly aligned with the vision to improve and change the image of the country into a better, more advanced one.
“The company always aims to produce local content with international standards, as we truly believe that this country has so much to offer and so many stories to tell, and we are just here to bridge and connect with the world through stories and visual content,” he told Arab News.
What makes Purple Brain stand out from other media production companies in commercials is their storytelling style.
“Purple Brain is mainly focused into the commercial world, which is tough and competitive, not only here but worldwide. We aim to be known and recognized for our unique storytelling style in commercials. Therefore, we try to always produce content that is story-driven and treated like short narratives. Even if it’s presented in just a picture.”
Purple Brain have participated in the “Colors of Saudi Arabia Forum,” a photo and video contest organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), and won first place two years in a row for the campaign “Try Local” in 2016 and 2017. “The two winning films highlighted stories of foreigners experiencing both Jeddah and Riyadh through a beautiful, rich and very local journey,” Rayess said.
They have produced a couple of short films. One, “About Her,” is a 15-minute narrative that tells the story of a 60-year-old writer lost between his real world and his fictional world. The film was screened at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles, and also in Jeddah.
Rayess and Mahdaly have also worked on other campaigns for SCTH, and for the Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Nahdi Medical Co. and other clients.
Purple Brain aims to revolutionize and raise standards in media and content in the region.
“We are aiming to produce long narratives and features with very high standards in the near future. Hopefully that would not only get us recognized globally but also have a huge impact on so many lives. We believe that we have a strong, very powerful, tool, and we have to make sure to use it well and help make this world a better place,” Rayess said.
Purple Brain content can been seen at www.purplebrain.co.