‘Gagarine’ shows pain of losing home

“Gagarine” screened at the Cannes Market on a virtual platform from June 22-26. Supplied
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Updated 27 June 2020

‘Gagarine’ shows pain of losing home

CHENNAI: A home is not just bricks and mortar but a place where memories are made — of one’s childhood, one’s joys, and yes, sometimes one’s sorrows.

One of 56 official titles selected by the Cannes Film Festival, which was canceled this year because of the coronavirus, was “Gagarine,” screened at the Cannes Market on a virtual platform from June 22-26.

Directed by debutant Fanny Liatard and Jeremy Trouilh, “Gagarine” is a bittersweet French story of a housing complex on the outskirts of Paris. Inaugurated and named after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the complex is found to be in a state of disrepair and faces demolition.




“Gagarine” is a bittersweet French story of a housing complex on the outskirts of Paris. Supplied

But 16-year-old black teen Yuri (played charismatically by newcomer Alseni Bathily) refuses to leave. He has nowhere to go after his mother abandoned him. Yuri (probably named after the cosmonaut) is a good handyman, and with two friends, Houssam (Jamil McCraven) and Diana (Lyna Khoudri), tries to carry out repairs with secondhand materials before the inspection. He fails, but is inspired to recreate a spaceship in the building’s basement. Passionate about astronomy, he also has a telescope and great imagination to rebuild his place as a sci-fi model.

“Gagarine” is an apt commentary – a fictionalized account of a real incident – on how marginalized communities live on hope, struggling to survive against tremendous odds.




“Gagarine” is an apt commentary – a fictionalized account of a real incident – on how marginalized communities live on hope. Supplied

In many ways Yuri seems to embody the spirit of the community and the complex, and we see the beginnings of the boy’s passion for space when the directors include archival footage of Yuri Gagarin visiting the complex to the cheering of crowds, many of whom have been lifted from a miserable existence to live in the sky-high building.

There are lovely movements in the movie, in which the real and unreal merge, lending themselves into a “cockpit” romance between Yuri and Diana, where she finally notices life-saving Morse Code messages from him that she herself had once taught him.

Together with a superb score by composers Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Amine Bouhafa, “Gagarine” presents a hauntingly memorable picture of how the loss of a home sometimes be so traumatic. Had the festival not been sidelined by the coronavirus, “Gagarine” would have certainly created a lot of buzz.


Jameela Jamil to guest star in ‘Red Table Talk’

Updated 19 October 2020

Jameela Jamil to guest star in ‘Red Table Talk’

DUBAI: British actress Jameela Jamil took to social media this week to tease her appearance in an upcoming episode of “Red Table Talk,” Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Facebook talk show series.

According to Jamil, who is of Pakistani and Indian descent, she will talk about being “an honest, open and rebellious feminist-in-progress” during the American web television show.

“Coming soon. My cup runneth over. I got to sit at the holy red table about what it’s like to be an honest, open and rebellious feminist-in-progress. Obsessed with these powerful, present and amazing women,” she wrote to her 3.3 million Instagram followers, alongside a photo of herself with the Pinkett-Smith family, including Jada’s daughter with husband Will Smith, Willow, as well as her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones. 

Naturally, Jamil’s friends couldn’t contain their excitement about the upcoming episode, taking to the comment section to share their anticipation. 

“SO COOL,” wrote singer and actress Demi Lovato. 

Plus-size blogger CeCe Olisa commented: “This is going to be good.”

Indeed, not one to hold back, Jamil is known for unapologetically speaking her mind and weigh in on the important issues facing women today, even if it affects her career. “I just cannot stay silent any more, I can’t. I don’t care if I’m going down – I’m going down in flames. I’m fine to not work in this industry. But I’m not fine to not say something,” she told The Guardian in a past interview.

The 34-year-old, who is the founder of the I Weigh movement that focuses on self-worth and body positivity beyond the scale, routinely takes to her social media accounts to talk about issues of body positivity and the #MeToo movement.

She’s been open about her own personal struggles with body image, such as an eating disorder she grappled with in her teens.

Additionally, the actress, who is known for playing Tahani Al-Jamil in sitcom “The Good Place,” is also known for telling wild stories. 

“Red Table Talk” premiered on May 7, 2018, on Facebook Watch. Previous guests on the online show include US comedian Tiffany Haddish, singer Toni Braxton, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo and US singer Ciara, among many others.