‘I always wanted to tell stories and make people feel something’

‘I always wanted to tell stories and make people feel something’
Tomer Shushan’s 20-minute White Eye has been shortlisted for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 March 2021

‘I always wanted to tell stories and make people feel something’

‘I always wanted to tell stories and make people feel something’
  • Writer and director Tomer Shushan on the making and success of ‘White Eye’

DUBAI: Writer and director Tomer Shushan is no stranger to stories. Growing up listening to his grandfather entertain people through stories, he aspired to be a storyteller. Little did he know that some day he would be writing and directing his own stories.

Although his film “A Sight” (2014) and TV show “Hellblazerbiz” (2021) has generated buzz in the industry, it is his short film “White Eye” (2019) that catapulted him on to the international stage. The 20-minute film has been shortlisted for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.

Arab News spoke to Shushan.

What’s your story? Give us a bit of background on your life and what prompted you to be a director.

Storytelling is something that runs in my veins. I remember as a young boy I used to visit my grandparents every Saturday night and lots of people would come as well. It was a small apartment full of people — friends and family — and my grandpa used to sit in the middle and tell old stories in Moroccan. I couldn’t understand a word, but I saw how he touched people, and made them laugh and cry.

I remember I always wanted to tell stories and make people feel something. So, I used to sit on the window, looking at the streets of Tel Aviv and find characters and tell myself stories of where they came from and where they are heading.

I never thought of making films, but during my army service, I was a photographer who documented moments, and through the lens of the camera, I felt my power.

It was a very easy decision to study film. I feel that my biggest passion is to make people feel something with the stories I tell, visuals I create and sounds I choose.

Why did you decide to film “White Eye” in one shot?

The idea to make the film in one shot was because the story is about a person who experiences a stressful and intense moment. Instead of acting from a rational place, he gives into an egoistic rage. Everything happens to him in a short period of time without a moment to stop, reconsider or breathe. I wanted the audience to really feel the same way as the main character.

When a film is made in multiple shots, between every shot, viewers have a tiny little break to catch their breath. I wanted the camera to connect the viewer and the main character in a never-ending motion, tension, that doesn’t give you a break.

How do you feel about the response and the accolades the film is getting?

I am very happy; I can’t hide it. This year was very tough for filmmakers who wanted to present their films. We are all dreaming about the moment the lights go down and we can watch a film on the big screen with strangers.

But the success of the film made me really happy because all the film festivals went online and gave filmmakers a chance to present their films and audiences a chance to watch. And that’s the most important thing.

The fact that it made people from all over around the world react is unbelievable. I never thought that this film would affect so many people from so many cultures. That is what gives me a lot of inspiration and energy to continue and write my next ones.

Given the current economic and political climate, what message is the film sending?

Especially at this time, when we all feel like we can’t control our situation, I hope this story will remind us that the most important thing is to remain human in every action we do. We are all the same. And we have the power to change it here to a better place.

What do you think about the future of cinema given the rise of streaming services?

I think in everything there is progress and revolutions. Nothing can beat the magical energy in a cinema and I guess the next generation will miss it.

I hope cinemas make a comeback and people prefer to go out and watch a film.

The streaming world is taking over these days, but maybe after the pandemic, everyone will look for any reason to get out, so cinemas will rise again.


Lebanese media outlet Sawt Beirut International to stream Lebanese Basketball Championship

SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news. (SBI)
SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news. (SBI)
Updated 28 September 2021

Lebanese media outlet Sawt Beirut International to stream Lebanese Basketball Championship

SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news. (SBI)
  • Sawt Beirut International acquires live streaming rights for the next 3 years for $468,000
  • ‘Primary agenda behind this step is to support sports in Lebanon,’ CEO Jerry Maher says 

LONDON: Sawt Beirut International on Tuesday won the live streaming rights to broadcast the Lebanese Basketball Championship for the next three seasons. 

The live streaming rights were acquired by the platform for $468,000. 

“The primary agenda behind this step is to support sports in Lebanon, support clubs and athletes, and provide the service of watching matches on SBI’s social media platforms,” Jerry Maher, CEO chairman at SBI, told Arab News.

“The streaming service will be available to both Lebanese and Arab audiences and those residing outside of Lebanon. The service will also be of particular interest to those who prefer social media over television.”

Maher said the project could not have been achieved without the support of businessman Bahaa Hariri, who is the eldest son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. 

“Supporting the Lebanese people in light of the economic crisis is the fundamental goal behind this step,” Maher said.

SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news that covers political, economic, and security developments in Lebanon and around the world.


Google’s browser cookies plan anti-competitive, advertisers tell EU

Google said a year ago that it would ban some cookies in its Chrome browser to increase user privacy. (File/Google)
Google said a year ago that it would ban some cookies in its Chrome browser to increase user privacy. (File/Google)
Updated 28 September 2021

Google’s browser cookies plan anti-competitive, advertisers tell EU

Google said a year ago that it would ban some cookies in its Chrome browser to increase user privacy. (File/Google)
  • Google’s plan to block a popular web tracking tool called “cookies” is anti-competitive, said a group of advertisers, publishers and tech companies

BRUSSELS: Google’s plan to block a popular web tracking tool called “cookies” is anti-competitive, a group of advertisers, publishers and tech companies said in a complaint to EU antitrust regulators.
The grievance could boost the European Commission’s investigation opened in June into Alphabet unit Google’s Privacy Sandbox which the company said could allow businesses to target clusters of consumers without identifying individuals.
Google said a year ago that it would ban some cookies in its Chrome browser to increase user privacy and offer the Privacy Sandbox as an alternative.
The Movement for an Open Web (MOW) said the proposal would give Google the power to decide what data can be shared on the web and with whom.
“Google says they’re strengthening ‘privacy’ for end users but they’re not, what they’re really proposing is a creepy data mining party,” MOW lawyer Tim Cowen said in a statement.
The Commission confirmed receipt of the complaint, saying it would assess it under the standard procedures. In June, it kicked off an investigation into Google’s online display advertising technology services.
Google has offered to settle the case in a bid to avoid a possible fine and a disruptive prolonged probe, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.
Google declined to comment on the MOW complaint and referred to its previous statement released when it offered concessions to the UK competition watchdog, which described the Privacy Sandbox as an open initiative to provide strong privacy for users while also supporting publishers.
The US Justice Department is also examining the issue, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
The group’s complaint to the UK regulator prompted its investigation which subsequently led Google to offer concessions.


Microsoft CEO says failed TikTok deal ‘strangest thing I’ve worked on’

Microsoft in August 2020 began talks on the proposed acquisition but the deal collapsed by September. (File/AFP)
Microsoft in August 2020 began talks on the proposed acquisition but the deal collapsed by September. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 September 2021

Microsoft CEO says failed TikTok deal ‘strangest thing I’ve worked on’

Microsoft in August 2020 began talks on the proposed acquisition but the deal collapsed by September. (File/AFP)
  • Microsoft's near-acquisition of social media app TikTok last year was the “strangest thing I’ve ever worked on,” Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said

LONDON: Microsoft Corp’s near-acquisition of social media app TikTok last year was the “strangest thing I’ve ever worked on,” Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said on Monday.
TikTok had been ordered by then-US President Donald Trump to separate its US version from Chinese parent ByteDance because of national security concerns about the collection of US users’ data. Microsoft in August 2020 began talks on the proposed acquisition but the deal collapsed by September.
Trump’s divestment push ended by the time he left office in January and no potential suitor ending up acquiring TikTok.
Speaking at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California, Nadella said he was looking forward to bringing Microsoft’s security, child safety and cloud expertise to TikTok.
“It’s unbelievable,” Nadella said of the experience during an on-stage interview. “I learned so many things about so much and so many people. First of all, TikTok came to us. We didn’t go to TikTok.”
“TikTok was caught in between a lot of things happening across two capitals,” Nadella continued. “President Trump had a particular point of view of what he was trying to get done there, and then it just dropped off. The [US government] had a particular set of requirements and then it just disappeared.”
Nadella said what attracted ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming to Microsoft was the US company’s services related to content moderation and child safety, developed through products included in Xbox video gaming tools and on business social network LinkedIn.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nadella said he has no idea whether the US is still pushing for a deal under President Joe Biden. The Biden administration has said it is reviewing the national security concerns.
“At this point, I’m happy with what I have,” Nadella said.
He also expressed support for greater government regulation of cryptocurrency rules, which could stifle ransomware attacks since the ransoms often flow through opaque systems.


UK financial watchdog warns social media over "dodgy" ads that fuel fraud

The tech firms have said they are investing in fraud prevention and collaborating with the government and regulators. (File/Reuters)
The tech firms have said they are investing in fraud prevention and collaborating with the government and regulators. (File/Reuters)
Updated 28 September 2021

UK financial watchdog warns social media over "dodgy" ads that fuel fraud

The tech firms have said they are investing in fraud prevention and collaborating with the government and regulators. (File/Reuters)
  • Social media firms must do more to stop advertising "dodgy financial promotions," says Britain's Financial Conduct Authority

LONDON: Social media firms must do more to stop advertising "dodgy financial promotions" that fuel a surge in fraud or face action, Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said on Tuesday.
"We are putting them on notice that we expect them to be involved in this process of protecting the community," the FCA's head of enforcement Mark Steward told the watchdog's annual meeting.
He gave no specific examples of what he described as the adverts "feeding social media with dodgy financial promotions", but financial fraud has rocketed, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, as more consumers shop online and try digital banking and investing.
Google has prohibited investment ads that are not FCA-authorised - including for gold and cryptocurrencies - since Sept. 6 this year.
Steward said the FCA was pleased by the Google action.
"We can see it having an impact already in curtailing the increase in suspicious financial promotions on Google searches," he said.
"We are talking to all social media firms about this and it's important that all of them change their processes and procedures otherwise we will have to take action," Steward added.
The tech firms have said they are investing in fraud prevention and collaborating with the government and regulators.


Advocacy group calls on EU states to provide safe passage for Afghan journalists

Advocacy group calls on EU states to provide safe passage for Afghan journalists
Updated 28 September 2021

Advocacy group calls on EU states to provide safe passage for Afghan journalists

Advocacy group calls on EU states to provide safe passage for Afghan journalists
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists has been voicing concerns about the safety of Afghan journalists, reporters and media workers

LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday called on EU states to provide safe passage for fleeing Afghan journalists and commit to helping them resettle in the EU.

Tom Gibson, the CPJ’s EU representative, highlighted that “journalists fleeing Afghanistan have received far too little support from governments around the world and their safe passage must now become a political priority.

“EU member states must make clear commitments to Afghan journalists fleeing persecution, including concrete and collaborative strategies for their evacuation and resettlement. The EU has a duty not to turn the other way,” he added.

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, the CPJ has been voicing concerns about the safety of Afghan journalists, reporters and media workers.

Recently, Afghan journalist Mohammed Ali Ahmadi was shot and injured in the capital Kabul for his work as a media professional. Similarly, a week earlier, Taliban fighters raided the homes of two journalists and seized cars, desktop computers and a licensed weapon from one of the houses.

The Taliban also raided the homes of three Deutsche Welle journalists in Afghanistan the week before, shooting dead a relative of a DW reporter and severely injuring another while attempting to track him down.

While EU member states, the UK and the US vowed to provide a safe passage for Afghan journalists, they are yet to voice clear commitments to aid in the resettling of high-risk Afghans in their own countries.