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

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.

‘Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses’ tells heart-wrenching story of Syria’s lost artists

Updated 15 November 2018

‘Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses’ tells heart-wrenching story of Syria’s lost artists

  • The 93-minute film follows six Syrian artists as they narrate their stories of displacement

BEIRUT: Filmmaker Nigol Bezjian premiered his latest movie “Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses” with an intimate screening in Beirut on Wednesday night.
The 93-minute film — which features dialogue in Arabic, Armenian, German and English with English-language subtitles — follows six Syrian artists as they narrate their stories of displacement.
Bezjian, an Armenian born in Aleppo, Syria, spoke to Arab News about the experience of making the powerful film and said it was inspired by one of his previous works, “Thank You, Ladies and Gentlemen.”
“The movie is about Syrian refugees in the camps of Lebanon and it stayed with me,” he said about his previous film. “But I wanted to make a film about people in our region who had to depart their homeland, from the time of the end of World War I until today.”
That sparked the idea for his latest venture.
Bezjian chose six characters and honed in on their past experiences in what turned out to be an insightful peek through the keyhole into the lives of those who have been affected by the strife in Syria.
“The characters in the film are artists who work in different disciplines of art,” he explained.

“The film is something of a documentary, as the characters’ stories are all real, yet the concept that ties them all together was created by me,” the filmmaker continued.
Making an appearance are filmmaker Vartan Meguerditchian, actor Ayham Majid Agha, musician Abo Gabi, dancer Yara Al-Hasbani, painter Diala Brisly and photographer Ammar Abd Rabbo.
The film explores the inner feelings and reflections of people who had to leave their homes and be transported to a new environment, facing many challenges along the way.
Despite the sometimes heart-wrenching subject matter, Bezjian noted that the main challenges he faced while producing the film were budget and timeframe.
“The movie took two-and-a-half years (to make), so the main challenge was not to give up and keep the same spirit and momentum throughout this time,” he said.

At the screening, an eager crowd listened as the filmmaker gave his introductory speech.

“There are a lot of faces I don’t recognize, and that’s a good thing,” Nigol said. 

The movie is filled with tense moments, artistic shots and captivating characters, that succeeded to show the reality of artists’ lives in environments marked by conflict and refuge.