At Cannes, Syrian docu filmmaker highlights Assad regime’s continuing attacks on hospitals 

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Waad Al-Kateab and her colleagues stage a poster protest against the Syrian regime's excesses on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Wednesday. (Ammar Abd Rabboo/Arab News)
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Waad Al-Kateab and her colleagues stage a poster protest against the Syrian regime's excesses on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Wednesday. (Ammar Abd Rabboo/Arab News)
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Waad Al-Kateab and her colleagues stage a poster protest against the Syrian regime's excesses on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Wednesday. (Ammar Abd Rabboo/Arab News)
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Waad Al-Kateab and her colleagues stage a poster protest against the Syrian regime's excesses on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Wednesday. (Ammar Abd Rabboo/Arab News)
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Waad Al-Kateab and her colleagues stage a poster protest against the Syrian regime's excesses on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Wednesday. (Ammar Abd Rabboo/Arab News)
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Waad Al-Kateab and her colleagues stage a poster protest against the Syrian regime's excesses on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on Wednesday. (Ammar Abd Rabboo/Arab News)
Updated 16 May 2019

At Cannes, Syrian docu filmmaker highlights Assad regime’s continuing attacks on hospitals 

  • Syrian docu film maker highlights systematic destruction of hospitals by Assad regime at Cannes
  • Waad Al-Kateab documentary film "For Sama" is considered among the "rising stars" to watch for at the annual film festival

JEDDAH: Arab documentary maker Waad Al-Kateab led a protest on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival Wednesday to highlight the Assad regime's continuing attacks on hospitals in Syria.
The film director and her colleagues posed with protest posters on the red carpet calling on the Syrian regime to stop its systematic destruction of medical facilities in opposition-held areas.
"Stop bombing hospitals," the posters screamed.
Al-Kateab is in Cannes where her documentary film "For Sama" is considered among the "rising stars" to watch for at the annual film festival.
“For Sama” records five years of Al-Kateab’s own life as an aspiring journalist in her besieged hometown of Aleppo, marrying one of the last doctors in the city and giving birth to her daughter, to whom the film is dedicated.
The documentary is a kind of letter to the little girl, explaining how she was born into the conflict and what happened to her home.
Al-Kateab, who now lives in London, won an Emmy award in 2017 for her films from inside Aleppo for Britain’s Channel 4 News, which are believed to be the most watched of any reports from the war.
Her shocking footage of the struggle to save babies and children in the city’s final hospital — in which she ended up living — brought home the horror inflicted on civilians.
The Syrian government had been accused of attacking hospitals starting in 2012 as the "Arab Spring" style peaceful protests, which began in 2011, degenerated into a civil war after dictator Bashir Al-Assad opted to fight it to cling to power.
Amnesty International documented "more than 300 attacks on medical facilities by Syrian and Russian forces" in 2015 alone.
In 2016, the Syrian American Medical Society recorded 252 attacks on Syrian health care centers, among them a facility run by the Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which was hit in an airstrike in the morning of February 15, leaving 25 people dead, including nine health care workers and five children.
An article on Wikipedia compiled numerous incidents of attacks on Syrian hospitals, citing various news reports, and put the blame of Syrian and Russian forces. Moscow and Damascus officials have repeatedly denied deliberately targeting medical facilities.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
 

(With AFP)

 


Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. (Supplied)
Updated 14 November 2019

Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

CHENNAI: Movies on World War II have delighted cinema audiences for years. Nobody can forget the daring Allied escape in the 1965 “Von Ryan’s Express” with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard driving a train through Nazi-occupied territory.

There were others in that decade and earlier such as David Lean’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai” about British prisoners of war building a railway in malaria-infested Burma (now Myanmar). These were great classics, but recent efforts have not been as memorable.

(Supplied)

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. Despite audiences still being thirsty for WWII sagas and a star-studded cast (Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas), the film is unmoving, mainly because of the shallow characters. If the dialogues are stiff, the dramatic potential – including the relationship among the men – appears to have been left midway.

The film begins with Japan’s December 1941 air attack on the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, which dragged America into the conflict, and the flick follows America’s revenge mission culminating in the June 1942 Battle of Midway.

(Supplied)

For the US, it was a victory against all odds giving them control of the Pacific’s Midway atoll. It was also a major triumph of human spirit, but the film does not quite capture it.

Most of the exploits relate to real-life fighter pilot Dick Best (Skrein), whose devil-may-care attitude earns him the title “cowboy.” His wife Ann (Moore), the only female character, urges him on but seems a washed-out figure. However, there is plenty of action in the air with dog fights, bombings and pilots ejecting from burning planes high above the ground.

(Supplied)

For fans of singer Jonas, his small but significant part may appeal. He is sailor Bruno Gaido whose spontaneous and heroic action during a Japanese raid earns him promotion.

“Midway” plays at three levels, including one about Japanese military officers, and was shot in Hawaii and Montreal with a lot of computer graphics thrown in. The camera work (Robby Baumgartner) is impressive, but somewhere the soul is missing, and the characters fail to come across as real people.

Despite this, the film opened atop the North American box office last weekend with a reported $17.5 million in ticket sales.