How the UAE’s Cinema Akil is raising funds for Beirut

“West Beirut” (1998). Supplied
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Updated 11 August 2020

How the UAE’s Cinema Akil is raising funds for Beirut

DUBAI: As Beirut copes with the aftermath of a major explosion that ripped through the city’s port area on Aug. 4, killing at least 150 and wounding thousands, the cultural community in the UAE has stepped in to raise funds for the Lebanese Red Cross.

The UAE’s independent theatre Cinema Akil has teamed up with MENA distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment to host Beirut Relief Screenings on Aug. 9, 10, 14 and 15. The independent cinema platform in Al-Serkal Avenue  has selected two films by Lebanese directors Nadine Labaki and Ziad Doueiri for the screenings, and proceeds from the tickets priced at $14 will go to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Moviegoers can purchase tickets for Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now?” and Doueiri’s “West Beirut” online at Cinema Akil’s website.

“Both ‘West Beirut’ and ‘Where Do We Go Now?’ are reflections of a Lebanese society that through unity, work to overcome the conditions of a volatile political geography,” said Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra in a release. 

“I am part Lebanese and spent a large chunk of my youth in school and university in Beirut,” Chakra adds. “Seeing the damage from that explosion truly affected us all at Front Row and these screenings with our close partners Cinema Akil are a way for me to give back to my home country.”

Set in 1975 at the onset of the Lebanese civil war, Doueri’s internationally-acclaimed film “West Beirut” was selected as Lebanon‘s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards.  The film follows a teenage boy named Tarek who finds himself in unlikely places as he crosses the Muslim and Christian divide in search for film for his camera. The coming-of-age movie has won a number of awards, including the FIPRESCI International Critics’ Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Best First Film at the Carthage Film Festival in 1998.

“Where Do We Go Now?” (2011). Supplied

Meanwhile, Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now?” premiered during the 2011 Cannes Film Festival as part of Un Certain Regard. The film follows the inhabitants of a small village in the Lebanon mountains as a group of women try to ease tensions between Christian and Muslim men.

“Cinema Akil is proud to open its doors in what we consider a small contribution towards a much larger relief effort needed to support the people of Lebanon whose lives and futures  lay in peril as a result of these catastrophic events,” said Cinema Akil founder Butheina Kazim.

“While both films are set against the backdrop of the civil war, they equally  exhibit Lebanon not as a theatre of tragedy and destruction, but a Lebanon that is beautiful, a Lebanon that is joyful and a Lebanon that is resilient: a clear parallel to the Lebanon we are seeing come together today in solidary to pull the country from under the rubble.”

Gerard Butler talks family and high-octane action films

Updated 30 September 2020

Gerard Butler talks family and high-octane action films

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood’s latest disaster movie offering, “Greenland,” sees humanity threatened by a comet on a collision course with Earth — Arab News sat down with stars Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin to find out more about the high-octane film.

While many disaster movies focus on experts in big-picture attempts to stop the disaster, “Greenland” keeps the stakes personal by following the Garrity family as they journey to find shelter before it’s too late.

“This story is so relatable because this guy, he’s not a Secret Service agent. He’s not a superhero,” Butler said of his character, John Garrity. “He’s just a dad and he’s not even a perfect dad.”

“Greenland” follows the Garrity family as they journey to find shelter before it’s too late. Supplied

As meteorites decimate cities and people give in to panic, the estranged Garrity family grows closer, mirroring Butler’s real-life relationships with his parents, who despite having not seen him in months due to COVID-19 restrictions, are still just as doting as ever. 

“It’s very sweet that they still care and you’re still their little boy,” Butler said, adding that he mined his relationship with his parents for insight on how to play a caring father. “That definitely helped me in the role, to play that father who will do anything in these trying times to try and protect his family in the midst of this craziness.”

The film was directed by Ric Roman Waugh. Supplied

And while their characters were growing closer, the actors formed a tight knit group as well. Co-star Morena Baccarin told Arab News that she coached and comforted the actor playing the family’s young son — Roger Dale Flloyd — and that she and Butler became good friends on set.

“There are days where you’re just so tired and you’re not in the mood or you don’t want to put yourself through the ringer emotionally,” Baccarin — who plays estranged wife Allison Garrity — said, adding “we just could check in with each other and be there for each other and that was really nice.”

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, the film has faced repeated delays in the US, but has already hit the big screens in some international markets — including Saudi Arabia and the UAE — where COVID-19 regulations have been amended.