Art Jameel and Gulf Photo Plus announce the return of the popular photography event, GPP Slidefest, to Saudi Arabia

The event allows emerging photographers in the region to collaborate, experiment and develop new techniques. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 21 September 2019

Art Jameel and Gulf Photo Plus announce the return of the popular photography event, GPP Slidefest, to Saudi Arabia

  • GPP Slidefest provides a platform for photographers of all levels to learn, experiment and celebrate the art of photography
  • A special portfolio review session will allow photographers and artists to benefit from the experience of industry professionals

JEDDAH: Works by five local and regional-based photographers will be on show as part of the second Saudi edition of GPP Slidefest, a platform that aims to develop the Kingdom’s growing interest in photography as an art form.

Art Jameel, the heritage, education and arts organization, on Wednesday said that the event, to be held in partnership with Dubai-based Gulf Photo Plus, will allow emerging photographers in the region to collaborate, experiment and develop new techniques.

Projects by Saudi photographers Iman Al-Dabbagh and Abdulsalam Alamri, Kuwaiti photographers Huda Abdulmughni and Mohammed Al-Kouh, and GPP Co-Director and Dubai-based Tanzanian photographer Mohammed Somji will be on show at the event, which begins on Friday, Sept. 27.

GPP Slidefest was launched in 2017 as part of Photography Jameel’s annual program, which focuses on year-round learning and community development with workshops, portfolio reviews
 and talks.

In addition to GPP Slidefest, Art Jameel and Gulf Photo Plus have partnered to present a portfolio review session on Saturday, Sept. 28, which will allow photographers and artists to meet with industry professionals for one-on-one sessions to share their work and receive feedback, advice and exchange ideas.

Photographers Al-Dabbagh and Al-Kouh will provide feedback in both English and Arabic, while Lola Boatwright, managing director of Gulf Photo Plus, and Mohammed Somji, director of Seeing Things and co-director of Gulf Photo Plus, will provide feedback in English.

The portfolio review sessions will run from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. with individual sessions lasting 15 minutes. 

Interested photographers can meet with as many industry professionals as they like, and reviews will be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel, said the organization’s focus on photography began through its photography award, which “has organically transformed into a grassroots program of workshops, talks and events for photographers across Saudi Arabia.”

Somji said: “Slidefest brings together a myriad of compelling photography projects that help to start conversations, enlighten us about social issues in our region and inspire other photographers to work on stories that matter to them.

“Together with Art Jameel, we held our first international Slidefest in Jeddah one year ago, and have since taken the event to Cairo and Manama, making it a region-wide event. We are honored to return to Jeddah with our friends and partners Art Jameel.”

GPP Slidefest is free to the public and will begin on Sept. 27 in Beydoun Space at 8:30 p.m.


Maleficent, Angelina Jolie’s misunderstood sorceress, returns

‘People aren’t born hard and aggressive,’ says Jolie. ‘Something happens and you don’t feel safe.’ (Supplied)
Updated 21 October 2019

Maleficent, Angelina Jolie’s misunderstood sorceress, returns

LOS ANGELES: No one is born the villain. Not Lucifer in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, not Arthur Fleck in Todd Philips’ recent release “Joker,” and certainly not Maleficent, whom Angelina Jolie brought to life in 2014. Unlike “Joker,” however, “Maleficent,” a reimagining of Disney’s classic “Sleeping Beauty” (1959), was an open-hearted film, showing not only how the world can harden the pure of heart, but also how love can soften it once more.

“We think of her as evil and dark, and we asked why, and went deeper,” says Jolie of the character. “Most women — most people — aren’t born with a certain hardness and aggression; something happens in your life where you lose trust, you don’t feel safe, and you start to fight and you protect yourself in a different way.”

“Maleficent” shows not only how the world can harden the pure of heart, but also how love can soften it once more. (Supplied)

In “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the sequel set six years later, Maleficent hardly lives up to that title, but rumor would have it otherwise. The story of the ‘sleeping beauty’ Aurora (Elle Fanning) has spread across the land, painting Maleficent as the villain, rather than the one whose love saved her. Now, as Aurora plans to marry Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), Maleficent must meet the neighboring Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), who wishes to destroy Maleficent and her magical world.

“When you see a leader like (Ingrith), who is so angry, so hostile, and who believes that the only way to survive is to destroy the other… we make it very clear in this film that she’s afraid, she’s weak and she’s ignorant. That’s why she’s behaving that way and that’s why she’s wrong,” Jolie says. “It’s not political, it’s not trying to be, but if you’re happy about the way the film ends, and it feels right, I think that heads you in the right direction, and for children it gives a nice guide.”

In the film, Maleficent must meet the neighboring Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), who wishes to destroy Maleficent and her magical world. (Supplied)

While the film features a lot of violent spectacle, the inner conflict of the lead characters themselves is whether they are strong enough to resist becoming violent, rather than the inverse.

“That’s something that isn’t portrayed a lot on screen — a lot of princesses grew up and they said, ‘Well, we’re going to make her a strong princess, and we’re going to make her tough, so we’re going to make her fight!’ Is that what being a strong woman means? We’re going to have to have a sword and armor on and fight? Aurora can do that in a different way, in a pink dress. It’s beautiful that she keeps her softness and vulnerabilities as her strengths,” says Fanning.

Redefining the ‘strong woman’ character is not just about redefining strength, for Jolie. It’s about lifting women up without pushing men down.

Harris Dickinson plays Prince Phillip in Disney's live-action “Maleficent.” (Supplied)

“We show diverse types of women, but we have extraordinary men in the film,” she says. “I really want to press that point, because I think so often when a story is told of a ‘strong woman’ she has to beat the man, or she has to be like the man, or she has to somehow not need the man. We both very much need and love and learn from the men. I think that’s also an important message for young girls — to find their own power, but to learn from and respect the men around them.”

For Maleficent, those men include Conall and Borra (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein respectively), both of whom are of the same race as her, cast out from the rest of the world. The two play out the conflict at the center of the film — whether the only path to peace is conflict, or whether diplomacy and goodwill can help.

Elle Fanning plays Aurora in “Maleficent.” (Supplied)

Ejiofor, who was nominated for an Academy Award for 2013’s “12 Years a Slave” says he was captivated by the film’s themes.

“It was an interesting conversation about leadership — what self-sacrifice means in terms of leadership — and has a real engagement with optimism and positivity in terms of leadership and what is beneficial to most people, and what part leadership plays in that. I felt there was something very rich in the script,” he says.

Even Prince Philip was built to break stereotypes and challenge perspectives, according to Dickinson.

Angelina Jolie brought Maleficent to life in 2014. (Supplied)

“I saw him as this young man trying to figure out how to find his voice and challenge the perspectives of his parents and rule in a more inclusive way,” he says. “(Director Joachim Rønning) and I spoke about him as not just the archetype of a Disney prince who comes along and saves the day.”

While Skrein’s Borra at first seems to be the cliched hawkish brute, he too turns out to be more openminded than he appears.

“The love and understanding of Conall’s message really resonated more, and we do see Borra go on a real arc or journey of his moral stance,” Skrein says. “I think that comes from Conall and that’s why we have to try and preach empathy and peace over violence as much as we can.”