Arab movies to debut at Toronto International Film Festival

“Gaza Mon Amour” is by Palestinian filmmaking twins Tarzan and Arab Nasser. (Toronto International Film Festival)
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Updated 03 August 2020

Arab movies to debut at Toronto International Film Festival

DUBAI: Organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) have released a new lineup of 50 movies for screening at this year’s event including a number of Arabic flicks.

Egyptian filmmaker Mayye Zayed’s “Ash Ya Captain” (“Lift Like a Girl”), an intimate journey into the life of an aspiring athlete, will premiere at the 45th edition of the festival, due to take place between Sept. 10 and 20.

Also featured will be Palestinian filmmaking twins Tarzan and Arab Nasser’s “Gaza Mon Amour,” a satire on love and desire. The brothers’ second feature film, it tells the tale of a 60-year-old fisherman who is secretly in love with a market dressmaker. As the story unfolds, the fisherman discovers an ancient Greek statue that will trouble him.

British director Ben Sharrock’s “Limbo” will see Egyptian-British actor Amir El-Masry star as a Syrian asylum-seeker who finds himself living on a small Scottish island.




Egyptian-British actor Amir El-Masry stars in British director Ben Sharrock’s “Limbo.” (Toronto International Film Festival)

Meanwhile, American director Spike Lee’s film version of David Byrne’s hit Broadway show “American Utopia” will open at the event which will be capped off by American-Indian director Mira Nair’s “A Suitable Boy.”

In addition, there will be showings of Iranian directors Manijeh Hekmat’s “Bandar Band” and Farnoosh Samadi’s “180 Degree Rule.”

Most screenings will take place virtually due to government restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director, said in a released statement: “We began this year planning for a festival much like our previous editions, but along the way we had to rethink just about everything.

“This year’s line-up reflects that tumult. The names you already know are doing brand-new things this year, and there’s a whole crop of exciting new names to discover.”

The full schedule of the festival will be released on Aug. 25.


US actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II wins his first Emmy award

Updated 21 September 2020

US actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II wins his first Emmy award

DUBAI: US actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II won his first Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, for his role in HBO’s ‘Watchmen,’ this week.

“Oh, man. Thank you so much to the Academy. I’m so excited right now,” the 34-year-old actor, who was born to a Muslim father, said as he accepted his award. 

Set in the alternate history laid out in the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore (but years on from the events of the source material, and with different characters), Damon Lindelof’s show was complex, layered, sometimes confusing, but ultimately rewarding.

Like Lindelof’s first hit, “Lost,” viewers were often required to bend their minds around some pretty major leaps of logic to follow this tale of masked police officers tackling masked vigilantes who are treated as outlaws. Along the way, the provocative show also made some intense observations about race relations.

During his speech, Abdul-Mateen II explained how he sees the film.

“‘Watchmen’ was a story about trauma. It was a story about the lasting scars of white domestic terrorism,” he said. 

“It was a story about police corruption and brutality, but in the midst of all that, it was also a story about a god who came down to Earth to reciprocate, to a Black woman, all the love she deserved. He did all that in the body of a Black man, and I’m so proud that I was able to walk into those shoes. So, I dedicate this award to all of the Black women in my life,” Abdul-Mateen II added.