Holocaust-based film ‘Resistance’ to screen at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival

‘Resistance’ will be screened at the Red Sea Film Festival in March. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 February 2020

Holocaust-based film ‘Resistance’ to screen at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival unveiled its inaugural movie lineup this week, with a few surprises on the list, including Holocaust-based film, “Resistance.”

The Jonathan Jakubowicz-directed World War II film, starring Jesse Eisenberg as Marcel Marceau, who was a member of the French Resistance, will mark the first time a film that explores the Holocaust will screen in the Kingdom

The significance was not lost on film aficionados, who took to social media to congratulate the Venezuelan director.

“Congratulations @JoJakubowicz I am very proud of all your achievements,” one user wrote. “A geopolitical achievement. Good job, Jonathan!” another user tweeted. 

“I think it’s a promising move toward artistic freedom,” Makkah-based Saudi filmmaker Talal Wassmy told Arab News when asked what the implications of the screening would be.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Yahya, a Saudi film critic for movie-focused website filmphoria.com, added that “it is a great cultural shift toward a less prejudiced mindset. I am glad we are no longer beholden to one narrative when it comes to history.”

The biographical drama tells the story of a young French actor, Marcel Marceau, who joins the French Resistance at the beginning of World War II in order to help save the lives of 10,000 Jewish orphans from Nazi forces in France.

Marceau, who was also famous for being a mime artist that delighted audiences for decades as “Bip,” used his miming skills to keep the orphaned children comfortable and quiet during the risky smuggled escapes to Switzerland.

“The kids loved Marcel and felt safe with him,” the late actor’s cousin and commander of the French Resistance, Georges Loinger, told the Jewish Telegraph Agency in 2007, after Marceau’s death.

“The kids had to appear like they were simply going on vacation to a home near the Swiss border and Marcel really put them at ease.”

The full cast of the film includes Edgar Ramírez, Clémence Poésy, Bella Ramsey, Matthias Schweighöfer, Géza Röhrig, Karl Markovics, Félix Moati, Alicia von Rittberg and Vica Kerekes. 

The film will be screened in Saudi Arabia before it is released in the US on March 27.

Also screening at the film festival, which is taking place from March 12-21 in Jeddah, is Derek Tsang’s “Better Days,“ “Air Conditioner” by Angolan Fradique, which premiered recently at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Mongolian-German director Uisenma Borchu’s semi-autobiographical drama “Black Milk,” which are also part of the competition lineup.


Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

Updated 53 min 24 sec ago

Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

  • Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic
  • The accessories label has seen a surge in sales in the Middle East amid the health crisis

DUBAI: To say that the fashion industry has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus disease would be an understatement. But one brand that has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic is Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far.

The A-list beloved brand, founded by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova in 2016, notes that it has actually seen a dramatic increase in sales in the Middle East during the crisis, exceeding pre-pandemic figures — in spite of all of the regulations put in place to slow the spread of the disease.

“Middle Eastern countries took harsh measures to control the outbreak, but it didn’t seem to weaken discretionary spending,” said the brand to Arab News, citing a massive rise in sales during April and May — the peak of the pandemic.

By Far was founded in 2016 by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova. Supplied

The brand credits the Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid for contributing to sales, revealing that the label’s “Tanya” shoes, as well as its “Mini” and “Miranda” bags, proved to be the best-sellers among their Arab clientele.

According to By Far, they witnessed a 400 percent increase in sales coming from the UAE and a whopping 800 percent increase in sales in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The figures are impressive, considering that retail sales plummeted worldwide, leading to closures of many fashion brands who failed to meet their targets.

The globally-recognized brand has been picked up by influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi. Supplied

The reason for the success, its founders believe, is that the brand has never relied on physical spaces. Buying activity has largely moved online due to retail spaces closing, and By Far has always been a digital brand with a massive online community.

The globally-recognized brand is sold in influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi in addition to its own e-commerce platform. Additionally, its Instagram account boasts a following of 371,000 users.

“In times like these, when we needed to support each other and stay connected more than ever, we really relied on our digital skills,”By Far told Arab News. “The situation definitely gave us a new perspective and we had the time to re-evaluate and re-structure some of our processes so that we can improve for the future.”

The Bulgaria-based accessories brand is extremely affordable and sustainable. Supplied

By Far even showcased its most recent Cruise 2020/2021 collection of shoes and bags via a virtual showroom. “We strongly believe that digital is a huge part of the future of fashion, and it is something that we will surely continue to develop,” the brand revealed.

At a time when sustainability and financial restraints are at the forefront of people’s minds, it also helps that By Far is extremely affordable and sustainable as far as luxury fashion goes. Every pair of shoes is priced between $200 and $600, and is created out of dead-stock fabrics (which helps keep the prices low) gathered from Italian factories.

“Sustainability has always been one of our top priorities in By Far. It has never been a question of whether we should do it or not. We have always tried to integrate sustainable practices as much as possible,” it said.

The brand has found fans in everyone from Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid to Beyonce and Selena Gomez. Supplied

The new collection includes playful pieces with colors custom-made in Tuscany. “We really had a very precise idea of what we want —cool lagoon blues, pomodoro red, grass green in combination with latte, khaki and matcha green hues to evoke calmness and a lightness of touch,” they explained. “We wanted to bring the collective spirit of optimism, joy and liberation with a euphoric palette.”

Chances are, you’ve already seen the chic new pieces on your favorite blogger or celebrity on Instagram. The brand’s designs have been sported by everyone from model Gigi Hadid to superstar Beyonce. As for who they would love to see wearing their creations next? “It would be a dream to see Queen Rania  (of Jordan) in By Far,” said the trio.

Perhaps she is one of the “fabulous Arab women” who inspired the brand’s forthcoming new collection, which is being specifically designed for this region.