Queen and Adam Lambert rock festival urging foreign aid

Adam Lambert, left, and Brian May of Queen perform onstage at the 2019 Global Citizen Festival at Central Park in New York on Saturday September 28, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 29 September 2019

Queen and Adam Lambert rock festival urging foreign aid

  • An estimated 60,000 people crowded in the iconic Manhattan green space for the Global Citizen Festival

NEW YORK: The legendary band Queen and glam frontman Adam Lambert led a packed Central Park on Saturday in mobilizing world governments to pledge international aid to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle climate change.
An estimated 60,000 people crowded in the iconic Manhattan green space for the Global Citizen Festival, an unofficial exclamation point to the United Nations General Assembly which distributes free tickets to people who have worked toward the greater social good.
Entertainment mogul Pharrell Williams, soulful pianist Alicia Keys, R&B prodigy H.E.R., pop band OneRepublic, K-pop boy band NCT 127 and singer-songwriter Carole King also played the festival.
Now in its eighth year at Central Park, the day of concerts saw fans young and old sway to classic Queen hits like “We Are The Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “We Will Rock You.”
Frontman Adam Lambert, who has toured with the band for some eight years, led the charge as veteran Roger Taylor helmed the drums as guitarist Brian May delivered his signature anthemic guitar solos.
The flamboyant Lambert went through a series of dramatic costume changes, finishing the show wearing a crown and a bright red military-esque uniform, as May dropped his long trench coat to reveal a t-shirt featuring the image of Queen’s original lead singer Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991.
Like many of the other performers, Lambert used the moment to urge environmental protections.
“We’re asking fans to take action to ask certain governments around the world... to take part in helping take care of our oceans,” Lambert said. “Fish and wildlife in the ocean are literally gagging on pieces of plastic and it’s killing them.”
A day prior the former “American Idol” contestant had said he was thrilled to participate.
“I love that they’re encouraging people to push the more wealthy world governments into backing these initiatives with real funding so that the real change can happen,” he said. “They’re getting people involved on a task level, so it’s actually educating all of our audience members.”
“It’s a really brilliant set-up.”
Prior to the Queen performance, Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio made a surprise appearance to praise youth activists, including the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who have taken to the streets and addressed world leaders in leading a global climate movement.
“Millions of individuals did more than simply walk out of their schools and places of employment. They took a stand,” DiCaprio said. “They set an example of true leadership that our planet so desperately needs.”
“These young people have said clearly, definitively and without fear, that the time for inaction is over.”
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, unveiled a new path for the island nation to tackle plastic waste and design alternative materials, as Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg increased contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to $228 million by 2023.
Germany meanwhile pledged $11.1 million to the “Education Cannot Wait” fund, aimed at assisting children living in conflict and crisis zones, as Switzerland vowed $6 million to it.
Earlier this week Global Citizen announced a year-long campaign pushing world governments to get “back on track” with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, an effort that will culminate with a 10-hour worldwide broadcast that will span five continents.
The event will feature a Central Park concert along with one in Lagos, Nigeria and in not-yet-announced cities in Latin America, Europe and Asia.
A laundry list of artists including teenage phenom Billie Eilish, funk futurist Janelle Monae, R&B superstar Usher and heavy metal band Metallica have already pledged to perform.
“This really is the most important 10 years for the movement to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle climate change,” said Hugh Evans, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen.
During Keys’ rousing performance that featured her own hits as well as a smashing duet with H.E.R. of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” the New Yorker praised the crowd for its activism and encouraged future efforts.
“We believe in love,” Keys said to cheers. “We believe in change.”
“We believe in greatness.”

A narrow, airbrushed take on the Syrian war

“Between Two Brothers” screened at the recent Cairo International Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 20 January 2020

A narrow, airbrushed take on the Syrian war

  • Syrian auteur Joud Said’s latest feature is based on the Syrian war and its impact on two siblings.

CHENNAI: Syrian auteur Joud Said’s latest feature, “Between Two Brothers” — which screened at the recent Cairo International Film Festival — is based on the Syrian war and its impact on two siblings.

Khaldoun (Mohammad al-Ahmad) and A’rif (Lujain Ismaeel) see their relationship torn apart by the strife in Syria, leading to agonizing days for their childhood sweethearts, twins Nesmeh and Najmeh.

A’rif goes to war, aligning himself with anti-government forces, while Khaldoun, who had been spending time outside his country, returns to mayhem.

The characters see their world turn upside down when A’rif kidnaps several men and women from the village. Nesmeh and Najmeh are part of the hostages and what ensues is a dilemma that sees A’rif turn  violent and vindictive.

Each brother has his own opinion on what is right and what is wrong about the war and this leads to a chasm opening up between them.

The director, who has come under heavy fire in the past for his supposedly pro-government views, is controversial to say the least.

In 2017, Syrian director Samer Ajouri withdrew his entry “The Boy and the Sea”  from the Carthage Film Festival in protest at the selection of Said’s feature, “Rain Of Homs.” Later, in 2018, Egyptian director Kamla Abu-Zikry accused Said of helming films which represented the Assad government’s viewpoint.

Despite the director defending his films in a clutch of newspaper interviews, it should be noted that “Between Two Brothers” was produced by Syria’s National Film Organization.

Said makes a pitiful attempt to teach the audience that each side has its reasons. But it is not hard to see where the tilt lies — we do not see any state security forces and violence erupts solely from the rebels’ ranks. In a way, “Between Two Brothers” airbrushes the destructiveness of war, with blatant symbolism and a couple of comedy scenes further eroding a subject as grim as this.

Yes, there are some visually arresting shots of the countryside captured with articulation and imagination by cinematographer Oukba Ezzeddine and the actors who played both brothers did a fair turn in their roles, but all in all it was far too narrow a representation of war to be effective.