‘A Son’ is a powerful family tragedy will long be remembered

‘A Son’ takes a look at a family in turmoil. (Supplied)
Updated 09 September 2019

‘A Son’ is a powerful family tragedy will long be remembered

VENICE: Arab cinema has touched the skies in the past five years or so, and the region’s film directors have learnt how to tell a story in a wonderfully focused way and in the shortest possible time.

Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s debut feature at the Venice Film Festival, “A Son,” at 96 minutes is a crisp look at a family in turmoil.

Set in the summer of 2011, six months after the Jasmine Revolution and the fall of Tunisian president, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, but before the death of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi, the movie profiles a family picnic in southern Tunisia.

It is all sunshine and joy with well-educated Fares (Sami Bouajila), his wife Meriem (Najla Ben Abdallah), and their 11-year-old son, Aziz (Youssef Khemiri), out for a weekend with friends in the scenic city of Tataouine.

But during the family trio’s drive back home tragedy strikes when militant rebels attack Fares’ car, and although he manages to turn it around and speed away, a bullet hits the young boy.

Later, in hospital, a doctor tells the couple that Aziz’s liver has been pierced and he will need a transplant. The parents are asked to undergo liver donor tests, but the results reveal information that threatens to destroy the family.

“A Son” has a climax that is unforgettable, and performances that are nothing short of brilliant. If Bouajila conveys his anger, angst and wounded pride in an extraordinarily controlled way, Abdallah portrays the pain of guilt and sorrow with subtle ease and fortitude.

Powerfully penned and directed with finesse, “A Son” should have qualified for the main competition, particularly since it delves into the seedy world of organ trade – and how this pushes people in dire medical emergencies to resort to the most scandalous and unlawful of activities.

With minimal background score – which heightens the effect of silence and the anguish the parents have to go through – and a camera that respects privacy without being curiously intrusive, Barsaoui’s film turns out to be a winner, and a work that will be remembered long after the festival has drawn its curtains.

Rita Ora shows love for Arab fashion in London 

The singer was spotted wearing a shirt dress by Rami Kadi. (Getty Images)
Updated 18 September 2019

Rita Ora shows love for Arab fashion in London 

DUBAI: Earlier this week, celebrities descended on YouTube & LOVE magazine’s London Fashion Week party, including the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Rita Ora — who chose to sport a Lebanese minidress on the occasion. 

Models and pop stars partied the night away at London’s The Standard Hotel on Monday night and Ora dazzled in a Pied-de-Coq patterned outfit from Lebanese designer Rami Kadi’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection, dubbed “Ometeo.”

The semi-sheer shirt dress featured pale yellow and ice blue patternwork and Ora paired the outfit with a wide brimmed hat and knee-high black boots. 

The outfit was styled by Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn. 

Rita Ora is no stranger to the Middle East and has performed in the Gulf a few times. (Getty Images)

Young Lebanese designer Kadi has become known for his cutting-edge style and often uses unexpected materials in his work — his latest collection features plexi glass in neon shades. The talent is becoming more and more popular with international celebrities and has already dressed the likes of pop legend Jennifer Lopez and Portuguese model Sara Sampaio, with Ora becoming the latest in a long list of leading ladies to turn to Kadi for sartorial advice. 

Besides her fashion choices, Ora has shown love for the Middle East in other ways — including filming her latest music video in Dubai. 

The singer unveiled the video for her single “New Look” in July and Dubai residents were quick to spot their stomping grounds in the clip. 

One of the neighborhoods to feature in the music video was Meydan — home to Dubai’s premiere racecourse, as well as a clutch of popular party spots.

Ora also performed at The Assembly - the Global Teacher Prize Concert in Dubai in March and at Base, the open-air club in the artsy Dubai Design District, last year.

In 2018, the award-winning singer found time for a quick Instagram-friendly workout in the gym of her Bahrain hotel before going on to wow crowds at the island’s annual Spring of Culture Festival.

The 27-year-old rose to fame in 2012 when she featured on DJ Fresh’s UK Number One “Hot Right Now.” Her self-titled debut album, released in August that year, also went to Number One and featured hits including “How We Do (Party),” “R.I.P.” and “Shine Ya Light.”