‘Gaza Mon Amour’ wins at Toronto Film Festival 

“Gaza Mon Amour” is a satire on love and desire. (AFP)
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Updated 21 September 2020

‘Gaza Mon Amour’ wins at Toronto Film Festival 

DUBAI: Palestinian filmmaking twins Tarzan and Arab Nasser’s “Gaza Mon Amour,” a satire on love and desire, has won the Netpac Award at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, which took place from Sept. 10-20.

The brothers’ second feature film tells the story 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 troubles him.

The Netpac Award is given to the best Asian feature film by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema.

The film, which stars Palestinian actors Hiam Abbas and Salim Daw, premiered at the Venice International Film Festival earlier in September. 

“Gaza Mon Amour” is not the only Arab film that has won big this month. Tunisian film “The Man Who Sold His Skin” won two awards in Venice last week.


REVIEW: US remake of ‘Utopia’ comes up short

The cast of 'Utopia' (Amazon)
Updated 22 October 2020

REVIEW: US remake of ‘Utopia’ comes up short

  • Lavish conspiracy drama misses the spark of the UK original

LONDON: Adapting a UK show for US (and, thanks to the reach of streaming platforms, international) audiences is a risky proposition. There have been far more misses than hits, with the British style of programming often proving difficult to recreate with anything other than the original cast, setting and tone.

It’s even more of a surprise that a US remake of “Utopia” was green-lit when you consider that the original 2013 UK run, though now regarded as something of a cult hit, was a divisive mix of graphic violence, head-spinning conspiratorial doublespeak and terrifyingly brilliant dystopian foreshadowing. Indeed, the original incarnation of the show was cancelled after just 12 episodes.

So how does the US version stack up? The premise is largely the same. A group of online friends, obsessed with the idea that a mysterious comic book has been predicting the world’s catastrophes, meet in real life when word leaks out of a newly discovered second volume. The misfits, each with their own distinctive foibles, find themselves on the run from a sinister organization that is hellbent on getting the book back. The only person they can turn to is the enigmatic Jessica Hyde, the ‘star’ of the comic book’s first volume.

In many ways, the US version simply transplants the action, characters and plot from the original, albeit it with the high-gloss buffing of modern TV production dollars. Sadly, in most cases, the 2020 version doesn’t fare well – Sasha Lane’s Jessica Hyde and Christopher Denham’s Arby, for example, lack the charisma of Fiona O’Shaughnessy or the horrifying blankness of Neil Maskell from the UK show.

Sasha Lane as Jessica Hyde in 'Utopia.' (Amazon)

There are some nice nods to the more modern setting – not to mention horribly unfortunate relevance, given the current global pandemic – and some big names making up the supporting cast (John Cusack and Rainn Wilson), but more often that not, the 2020 show lacks the claustrophobic menace that pervaded the UK original.

“Utopia” is still an enjoyably uncomfortable watch, and is (at times) still chillingly sinister. Those who missed the UK original might find something here, but those who caught the show first time round may feel a little underwhelmed.