Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE's big screen

‘Soufra’ (2017). Supplied
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Updated 28 December 2019

Celebrating Palestinian heritage on the UAE's big screen

  • Reel Palestine is returning for its sixth edition next month
  • The festival will be screening independent Palestinian films in venues across three emirates

DUBAI: Reel Palestine, a UAE-based film event dedicated to Palestinian movies, is returning for its sixth edition next month. Set to kick off from Jan. 17-25, The weeklong festival will be screening independent Palestinian films at Alserkal Avenue in Dubai.

The pop-up festival, which debuted in 2015, is held in collaboration with independent arthouse theater Cinema Akil in an effort to present Palestinian culture and heritage in an authentic way through a handpicked selection of short films, features and documentaries.

In addition to film screenings, the sixth edition of the film fest will also bring together some of the inspiring film makers responsible for the featured works for Q&A sessions to discuss some of the pressing issues facing Palestinian people.

Among the films set to showcase during the event is the Elia Sulaiman-directed “It Must Be Heaven.” The satirical-comedy film tells the story of a Palestinian man, played by Sulaiman himself, who travels the world but faces the same problems as he would in his hometown. Notably, it won the Jury Special Mention award at the 2019 edition of the Cannes International Film Festival.

Also showing is the 2017 documentary entitled “Soufra.” The production, which was directed by filmmaker Thomas A. Morgan, follows the inspirational story of a generational refugee named Mariam, who, after spending her entire life in the Burl El-Barajneh refugee camp situated south of Beirut, sets out to change her fate by launching her own catering company, Soufra.

Meanwhile, in addition to discovering Palestinian films, guests will also be able to explore a carefully curated collection of unique crafts, souvenirs and items made and inspired by Palestinian traditions at the RP Souk. The week-long marketplace will be open during film screening hours at Cinema Akil in Dubai.

Among the vendors who will be selling their made-in-Palestine products are Rimal Books, an independent publishing house founded by Nora Shawwa and Ayadi by Widad, a Dubai-based platform that sells art, accessories and apparel that is all handmade by Palestinian women. 


Arab designs add flair to the SAGs red carpet

Jennifer Lopez was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “Hustlers.” (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2020

Arab designs add flair to the SAGs red carpet

DUBAI: Arab designers took over the red carpet at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Yvonne Strahovski and Sian Clifford showing off looks from the Middle East.

Singer and actress Lopez, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “Hustlers,” showed off a sleek black number by Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika, complete with an off-the-shoulder neckline and thigh-high slit. The column gown featured a floor-grazing train and the star accessorized the look with sparkling diamonds and a chic up-do with fronds of hair framing her face.

Meanwhile, Australian actress Strahovski opted for an all-white look by London-based Emirati label Khyeli.

Jennifer Lopez showed off a sleek black number by Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika. (AFP)

Helmed by designer Ahmed Khyeli, the fashion house dressed Strahovski in an ethereal column gown from its Spring/Summer 2020 collection.

The look featured a peek-a-boo cutout on the bodice, along with elegant off-the-shoulder sleeves that ended just above the elbows.

British stage and TV actress Clifford chose to show off a dramatic burgundy velvet pantsuit, complete with a plunging neckline and gold detailing on the jet black lapels. The glamorous evening look came courtesy of Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad.

Yvonne Strahovski opted for an all-white look by London-based Emirati label Khyeli. (AFP)

The leading ladies were all in attendance when South Korean film “Parasite” shocked the Screen Actors Guild Awards by landing the night’s top prize, a historic win which thrusts the black comedy into Oscars contention.

The critical smash hit film overcame the language barrier to win outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, the SAG equivalent of a best film Academy Award, AFP reported.

“I’m a little embarrassed feeling like we’re the parasites of Hollywood now,” joked actor Lee Sun-Kyun.

Director Bong Joon-Ho admitted that “it is true that the momentum is building” for the Oscars.

Sian Clifford chose to show off a dramatic burgundy velvet pantsuit. (AFP)

The film, which merges comedy, drama and horror genres, follows a poor family as it infiltrates a wealthier household, and tackles the widening class gulf.

“Although the title is ‘Parasite,’ I think the film is about coexistence and how we can all live together,” said star Song Kang-ho, collecting the award.

The much-hyped movie had missed out on main prizes at the Golden Globes and Saturday’s Producers Guild Awards.

But Sunday’s win underlines the breakout movie’s extraordinary popularity in Hollywood.

It beat “Bombshell,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit” and “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood” at the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles.