Film Review: Girls of the Sun — A female Kurdish battalion gives Daesh a drubbing

A still from the film 'Girls of the Sun'. (Supplied)
Updated 09 January 2019
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Film Review: Girls of the Sun — A female Kurdish battalion gives Daesh a drubbing

  • 'Girls of the Sun' is a war drama
  • The film is a fictional story based on a true story

CHENNAI: Eva Husson’s war drama “Girls of the Sun” is hitting movie theaters just as the world’s attention is once again focused on northern Iraq, where this fictional story, based on a true story, is set. It also comes as Hollywood, under attack for underrepresentation of women in the industry, is trying to stamp out gender inequality.

With the exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani in the role of Bahar, commander of a Kurdish unit battling Daesh, “Girls of the Sun” is a paean to the courage and never-say-die attitude of a band of female combatants. From a bored but extremely patient wife in “The Patience Stone” to a Rajasthani woman in “The Song of Scorpions,” Farahani has a brilliant range.

In “Girls of the Sun” Bahar and her comrades take advantage of a male jihadi superstition that death at the hands of a woman will push them straight into hell. A university graduate from Iraq and once a lawyer by profession, Bahar was sold into virtual slavery, her husband murdered and her young son sent away to be trained as a rebel soldier.

Another strong female character is Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot), a French war reporter who lost an eye in a conflict zone and has landed in Iraq – a character obviously modelled on American journalist Marie Colvin who died covering the siege of Homs in Syria in early 2012. A film based on Colvin’s life, “A Private War,” has since been made.

French director Husson, the granddaughter of Spanish Republican soldiers, is believed to have written “Girls of the Sun” to explore the theme of resistance against fascist oppression. The message is decidedly feminist, the script is powerful and the action sequences are true to life.

According to one study, women accounted for just 8 percent of directors of the 250 highest-grossing Hollywood films made in 2018. The overall percentage of women in behind-the-scenes movie roles rose to a paltry 20 percent from 18 percent in 2017. “Girls of the Sun,” which competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, marks a step by Hollywood in the right direction.


Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek score Oscar nominations as race kicks off

Updated 22 January 2019
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Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek score Oscar nominations as race kicks off

DUBAI: The Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, with Lebanese director Nadine Labaki scoring a nomination for her film, “Capernaum.”

Meanwhile, American-Egyptian actor Rami Malek was nominated for “Leading Actor” for his role as Freddie Mercury in in Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while breakout star Mahershala Ali scored a “Supporting Actor” nomination for his role in “Green Book.” Ali made history for being reported as the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar in 2017, for his role in "Moonlight."

Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani announced the nominations at 5:20 a.m. in Los Angeles, as film critics, movie stars and producers and directors across the world set their alarms early to catch the eagerly-awaited submissions for Hollywood's most coveted awards.

The show will take place on Feb. 24 and will see Hollywood’s cream of the crop go head to head.

Labaki’s “Capernaum” was widely expected to be nominated as it has been well received by international critics.

The gritty film, which won the 2018 Cannes Jury Prize, centers on a poverty-stricken child who sues his parents in protest of the life they have given him. Last year’s Oscar entry from Lebanon, Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult,” also earned a nomination.

One of the most buzzed-about foreign language films this year, however, is “Roma” from Alfonso Cuaron — a black and white ode to his childhood in 1970s Mexico City that took home two Golden Globes, including best director.

The film was produced by streaming giant Netflix, which has come under criticism from its more traditional rivals for its strategy of massive online distribution of original content — and screenings in only a few cinemas.

“Roma” is the first Netflix film to vie for glory in major Oscar categories.

It was also nominated in the coveted “Best Film” category, alongside “Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favorite,” “Green Book,” “Roma” and “A Star is Born.”

Last year, the awards season was marked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the birth of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements against sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace.

This year, multiple controversies are plaguing the Oscars — none of them related to last year's bombshell.

In August, the Academy — under fire for being too elitist — announced it would add a “best popular film” award. But many saw the new category as a booby prize for blockbusters like “Black Panther” that would keep them out of contention for top honors.

The plan was scrapped a month later.

Then actor-comedian Kevin Hart had perhaps the briefest tenure ever as Oscars host — a few days. He withdrew after homophobic tweets he had written years ago sparked a crippling backlash on social media.

Of course, on Oscars night, the focus will revert to the nominees and the red carpet glamor.

Key Nominations

Best Film

‘Black Panther’

‘BlacKkKlansman’

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

‘The Favorite’

‘Green Book’

‘Roma’

‘A Star is Born’

Vice

Best Foreign Language Film  

‘Capernaum’ (Lebanon)

‘Cold War’ (Poland)

‘Never Look Away’ (Germany)

‘Roma’ (Mexico)

‘Shoplifters’ (Japan)

Best Actor

Christian Bale, "Vice"

Bradley Cooper, "A Star Is Born"

Willem Dafoe, "At Eternity's Gate"

Rami Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Viggo Mortensen, "Green Book"

Best Actress 

Yalitza Aparicio, "Roma"

Glenn Close, "The Wife"

Olivia Colman, "The Favourite"

Lady Gaga, "A Star Is Born"

Melissa McCarthy, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"