Has Lebanon banned ‘Wonder Woman’ over its Israeli lead actress?

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Gal Gadot in a scene from "Wonder Woman."
Updated 30 May 2017
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Has Lebanon banned ‘Wonder Woman’ over its Israeli lead actress?

DUBAI: The latest DC Comics superhero film “Wonder Woman” is set to be banned in Lebanon over its Israeli lead actress Gal Gadot, the state-run National News Agency reported Monday.
The Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade has been prompted to “take the necessary measures” to prevent the film being screened in the country, according to local newspaper The Daily Star.
According to a circulated information poster released by the ministry, on Monday it “prepared a directive for the General Directorate of Public Security to take the necessary measures to prevent the screening of this film.”
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However, despite stirring up a social media frenzy, the reported ban has yet to be enforced and when contacted by Arab News, a representative of one cinema chain in Lebanon — who spoke on condition of anonymity — said that a premiere screening has been planned, pending an official announcement.
The news follows calls from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Lebanon to ban the screening of the film due to its Israeli lead. The BDS works to end international support for Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
BDS Lebanon also took action in April 2016, when the actress played the role in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
At the time, BDS representative Dr. Abdel Malik Sukria sent a letter to Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy and Trade, highlighting Gadot’s service in the Israeli military.
“This actress served in the (Israel Defense Forces) and was crowned the beauty queen of Israel. She also revealed her support for the IDF during the last war in Gaza,” he wrote.
Despite the controversy, the film has received positive reviews in the US, with the Associated Press writing “it’s not perfect, but it’s often good, sometimes great and exceptionally re-watchable.
“Director Patty Jenkins’ film is so threaded with sincerity and goodness it’s a wonder how it got past the pugnacious minds responsible for what’s come before… Just look to the image of Gal Gadot confidently striding out alone onto an unwinnable battlefield with only a shield, a sword and a mission — and prevailing. It’s enough to give you goosebumps,” the AP’s film critic wrote.


Story about Farah Al-Qasimi’s mockumentary ‘Um Al Naar’

The film’s titular protagonist is a jinn. (Supplied)
Updated 5 min 18 sec ago

Story about Farah Al-Qasimi’s mockumentary ‘Um Al Naar’

SHARJAH: “Everyone in the Emirates has a jinn story — or a family with a jinn story, and yet everyone waivers in their belief. It’s not so much about the jinn as it is about what belief in spirituality allows us to do as humans.”

Emirati visual artist Farah Al-Qasimi is talking about her new film, a 40-minute fictional ‘documentary’ called “Um Al Naar” (Mother of Fire). The film will be shown for the first time in the region as part of Al-Qasimi’s solo show “Arrival,” which opens at the Third Line in Dubai on September 18 and runs until November 23.

The film’s titular protagonist is a jinn — a spirit capable of possessing humans — starring in a reality TV special in which she narrates her version of the history of her region (Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE).

“She laments her waning power and the loss of belief in the supernatural, and eventually decides to take matters into her own hands,” Al-Qasimi tells Arab News.

“We have come to known the jinn through folklore as mischievous, malignant characters, but I'm presenting Um Al Naar as an entity who might be simply misunderstood. Her dilemma is a fear of change, however inevitable and constant it is.”

Al-Qasimi is perhaps better-known for her photography than her films, but in this case, she says, “A longer film seemed appropriate; it gives room for different melodramas to unfold.

“I’m really interested in hearing people speak for themselves,” she continues. “The film moves between real documentary footage and silly, in-studio mockumentary, but everyone is speaking in their own expressive language, whether it's Um Al Naar, Ahmed the exorcist, or the men telling stories of jinn encounters.”

While there is a significant amount of humor in the piece, Um Al Naar “asks questions about belonging, mobility and cultural hegemony; questions that linger as we consider the significance of a lingering international presence in the Gulf, and questions of national progress and who (the Western presence serves),” Al-Qasimi explains.

“In our middle-school history books, the Portuguese and British invasions of the 1500s onwards is often overlooked or, at most, casually mentioned. And that's a pretty formidable history to contend with for such a young nation,” she continues. “The views are Um Al Naar's, but I like to think of her as an amalgamation of many of the critical thinkers I know and admire. She has a deep sense of love for her land, and considers critical thinking a necessary part of that love.”