Syrian documentary ‘Children of the Enemy’ premieres at Copenhagen film fest

Syrian documentary ‘Children of the Enemy’ premieres at Copenhagen film fest
The documentary follows an elderly musician in his fight to save his seven grandchildren before it’s too late. Supplied
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Updated 26 April 2021

Syrian documentary ‘Children of the Enemy’ premieres at Copenhagen film fest

Syrian documentary ‘Children of the Enemy’ premieres at Copenhagen film fest

DUBAI: The documentary “Children of the Enemy,” which captures the journey of a Swedish-Chilean man to a Syrian prison camp to rescue his grandchildren, had its world premiere at the Copenhagen documentary film festival CPH:DOX this week.

Director Gorki Glaser-Müller’s documentary focuses on Chilean-Swede musician Patricio Galvez who attempts to bring his orphaned grandchildren home after their parents – members of Daesh – are killed.

The film depicts how Galvez’s daughter Amanda and her husband, a Swedish Muslim convert, traveled to Syria with their children in 2014 to fight for Daesh. Both parents were killed in 2019 and their seven children were transferred to an overcrowded refugee camp in North East Syria.

Galvez decided to travel to Erbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan, from where he hoped to enter Syria, and save his grandchildren. He invited Glaser-Müller to accompany him on this perilous mission.

Galvez’s efforts received widespread coverage in the Western media, but Glaser-Müller “saw the possibility to tell the story from the inside” as he and Galvez were acquaintances, according to Variety.

“It was a balance between being a filmmaker and a friend,” he told the publication.

“To be honest, I was terrified of going there,” he says of traveling to Syria and Iraq without a crew and little in-depth information about the situation in the countries.


Spotify unveils Saudi Arabia’s most streamed song, artist of 2021

K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year. (AFP)
K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year. (AFP)
Updated 02 December 2021

Spotify unveils Saudi Arabia’s most streamed song, artist of 2021

K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year. (AFP)

DUBAI: Streaming service Spotify has unveiled the top artists, songs, playlists and podcasts genres listened to in Saudi Arabia in 2021.

The most streamed song of the year was Masked Wolf’s “Astronaut In The Ocean,” while K-Pop sensation BTS was the most-streamed artist this year.

Beyond international music, Sheilat — a traditional genre that has been evolving recently — has been striking a chord with local listeners. It topped the list for most streamed playlist and famed Sheilat singer Abdullah Alfarwan even earned his spot as the most-streamed Saudi artist in the country. He also bagged two spots in the most-streamed songs top 10 list with “Leh El-Jafa'' coming in second and “Wesh Ozark” coming in ninth.

Best Sheilat is the most popular Spotify playlist amongst listeners in Saudi Arabia, followed by Top Khaliji Songs and Top Gaming Tracks.

British singer Dua Lipa's "Future Nostalgia" is the country's most streamed album.

In terms of Saudi Arabia's most popular podcast categories, "Society and Culture" themed podcasts come second after "Music" in the most popular category podcasts list. Comedy podcasts are now Saudi Arabia's third most popular podcast genre.


Slovak filmmaker wins Cairo Film Festival’s European movie award

Slovak filmmaker Peter Kerekes’ ‘107 Mothers’ won the Arab Critics’ Award for European Films at the Cairo Film Festival on Wednesday. (Supplied)
Slovak filmmaker Peter Kerekes’ ‘107 Mothers’ won the Arab Critics’ Award for European Films at the Cairo Film Festival on Wednesday. (Supplied)
Updated 02 December 2021

Slovak filmmaker wins Cairo Film Festival’s European movie award

Slovak filmmaker Peter Kerekes’ ‘107 Mothers’ won the Arab Critics’ Award for European Films at the Cairo Film Festival on Wednesday. (Supplied)

DUBAI: Slovak filmmaker Peter Kerekes’ “107 Mothers” won the Arab Critics’ Award for European Films at the Cairo Film Festival on Wednesday.

A total of 71 film critics from 15 Arab countries selected the best European film from 26 films nominated by the member organizations of European Film Promotion.

According to Variety, Kerekes accepted the award virtually, and said he was happy to have been nominated. “My grandmother always told me: ‘Peter, you have to be in good company.’ When I saw our film’s title in the selection among such beautiful and powerful films, I knew that I had fulfilled the dream of my grandmother. To receive the award was a big surprise and a big honor for me.”

Ola Al-Sheikh, manager of the award, said: “This year’s jury saw 26 European films that left us in total confusion because of their good quality and the closeness in the numbers of the votes. In the end, the award went to the remarkable film ‘107 Mothers.’ “

Based on a true story, the film follows Ukrainian woman Lesya, who has just had her first child and been sentenced to seven years in prison for the murder of her husband in a country where inmates are allowed to serve their sentence with their children until the infant reaches three years of age.


Saudi omnibus film spotlights women at Cairo Film Festival

Kicking off this year’s Horizons of Arab Cinema section at the ongoing Cairo Film Festival is an omnibus film called ‘Becoming.’ (Supplied)
Kicking off this year’s Horizons of Arab Cinema section at the ongoing Cairo Film Festival is an omnibus film called ‘Becoming.’ (Supplied)
Updated 02 December 2021

Saudi omnibus film spotlights women at Cairo Film Festival

Kicking off this year’s Horizons of Arab Cinema section at the ongoing Cairo Film Festival is an omnibus film called ‘Becoming.’ (Supplied)

DUBAI: Kicking off this year’s Horizons of Arab Cinema section at the ongoing Cairo Film Festival is an omnibus film called “Becoming,” which is a collaboration between Saudi female directors.

Playing in an Out-of-Competition slot, directors Sara Mesfer, Fatima Al-Banawi, Jawaher Alamri, Hind Al-Fahhad and Noor Alameer worked together to direct a 70-minute fiction film featuring shorts that focus on the role and experience of women in society.

According to the official synopsis of the film, it “explore(s) the human depth, under the pressure of suffering, secrets, anxiety and fear.”

“The only theme that really united us here was womanhood,” Mesfer told Variety, after explaining that she chose to focus on the impact on a mother-daughter relationship when the daughter decides to have an abortion.

“This short in ‘Becoming’ is about things that were going on around me. She cannot afford a doctor. She goes the traditional way to abort the baby using cinnamon. It’s an observation of a mother-daughter relationship,” she added.

“Becoming” was made in 2020 over a six-month period, but was delayed being shown because of the pandemic, she said.

“For ‘Becoming’ we all worked really independently. But for ‘Quareer,’ we had a much stronger collaboration,” she added of a separate omnibus project that is set to screen at the upcoming Red Sea International Film Festival.


‘Dying to Divorce:’ UK documentary on Turkish domestic violence in Oscars race

A movie highlighting domestic violence in Turkey has been nominated as the UK’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film award at the Oscars. (Supplied)
A movie highlighting domestic violence in Turkey has been nominated as the UK’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film award at the Oscars. (Supplied)
Updated 02 December 2021

‘Dying to Divorce:’ UK documentary on Turkish domestic violence in Oscars race

A movie highlighting domestic violence in Turkey has been nominated as the UK’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film award at the Oscars. (Supplied)

ANKARA: A movie highlighting domestic violence in Turkey has been nominated as the UK’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film award at the Oscars.

The five candidates for Best International Feature Film are set to be announced in February, before the Academy Awards take place on March 27.

Although one film cannot decrease domestic violence and murder figures overnight, “Dying to Divorce” has already triggered a global public debate about the issue that has universal relevance.

Filmed over five years by producer Sinead Kirwan and director Chloe Fairweather the film revolves around the testimonies of two Turkish female victims of abuse, Arzu Boztas and Kubra Eken.

The documentary also follows Ipek Bozkurt, a defiant female lawyer in Turkey fighting the culture of violence through the courts, and Aysen Kavas, a women’s rights activist. The personal narratives and a critical eye on the systemic shortcomings give the movie further emotional impact.

Mother-of-six Boztas, a housewife married at 14 in central Anatolia in a conservative milieu, was left disabled after being shot at close range six times in her arms and legs when she asked her husband for a divorce.

In the film, her conservative father who gave permission for the marriage, said: “I ruined the lives of my children just to keep with tradition.”

Eken, a successful TV presenter at Bloomberg News in London, was struck several times on the head by her producer husband two days after giving birth to their daughter. She suffered a serious brain hemorrhage in the attack that for years prevented her from speaking and walking, although her husband blamed her situation on the Caesarean section operation she had.

Both victims had difficulties claiming justice for what had happened to them and securing custody for their children. But with the help of lawyers and activists in Turkey they finally won legal victories following years of battling through the courts.

Despite coming from different socio-cultural environments, the women were united in wanting to tell their stories to the world.

The film, now showing in UK cinemas, has already received several prizes and nominations at European film festivals and was nominated for a British Independent Film Award.

Figures show that in recent years, more than 400 women have been murdered annually by either their partners or family members with some attackers even getting their sentences reduced by claiming provocation or for showing good behavior during their trial.

Domestic violence and femicide remains a major problem in Turkey where 38 percent of women experience abuse by their partner, according to World Health Organization data.

Bozkurt, who will be attending a number of special screenings of the documentary in Scotland, is part of the We Will End Femicide platform that has been monitoring cases of violence and murder on a daily basis for 11 years.

The lawyer told Arab News that the power of the documentary came from its elaboration of the issue from a global perspective without reducing it to a mere domestic problem for Turkey.

She said: “Domestic violence is also a major problem in many Western countries, including the UK. We tried to demonstrate the inner strength of these two ladies and their relentless fight to stay alive by using the power of the media. And I believe such a narrative will inspire many women around the world.”

Bozkurt pointed out that gender inequality penetrated across various social segments and was not restricted to disadvantaged communities.

“However, fighting against it requires a holistic and integrated approach. Not only politicians, but also media and activists have a key responsibility. This documentary, by not using the pornography of violence, emphasized the core of their fight against impunity and tried to show that these women have a cause to defend not only for themselves but also for the rights of their fellows,” she added.

In recent years, more women in Turkey have come forward to fight for justice over domestic violence and for changes in legislation to protect them.

Kavas, a representative of the We Will End Femicide platform, noted that the movement had empowered women to speak up.

She told Arab News: “We gave them a boost for not giving up from the struggle for their rights. But we, the women of Turkey, prefer to have more descent lives rather than being the subject of Oscar-nominated documentaries.

“I’m not fighting because this is something that can happen to me. I’m fighting because it can happen to anyone.”

On Nov. 9, 28-year-old Basak Cengiz, a young architect, was stabbed to death by a man wielding a samurai sword when she was walking down a street in one of Istanbul’s crowded districts. Her attacker admitted he was simply out to kill someone. “I preferred to kill a woman because I thought she would be an easier target,” he said.

Kavas helped Boztas with her legal case. “She is now living with prosthetic legs and had several operations after the violence she endured. However, she always says that in the past she was feeling herself less free when she was married with her ex-husband.

“With the campaigns that we have been carrying out for years, women are not quiet anymore on the subject of violence. We made a lot of noise, and they no longer feel alone,” Kavas said.

Further information on the documentary can be found at http://dyingtodivorce.com


Review: ‘Hawkeye’ — shot through with heart and sure due fame

 The ever-expanding Marvel universe returns to the small screen for ‘Hawkeye’ — a six-part series. (Supplied)
The ever-expanding Marvel universe returns to the small screen for ‘Hawkeye’ — a six-part series. (Supplied)
Updated 02 December 2021

Review: ‘Hawkeye’ — shot through with heart and sure due fame

 The ever-expanding Marvel universe returns to the small screen for ‘Hawkeye’ — a six-part series. (Supplied)

LONDON: After the cinematic bombast of recent Marvel movies “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and “Eternals,” the ever-expanding Marvel universe returns to the small screen for “Hawkeye” — a six-part series starring the eponymous, world-weary archer, played by Jeremy Renner. Disney’s previous live-action MCU shows (the genre-bending “Wandavision,” buddy movie-esque “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” and the multiverse-spawning/spanning “Loki”) all had their own unique feel and style, but from the very start of “Hawkeye” it becomes clear that this is an altogether more human affair.

The show starts with a flashback to 2012, and the Battle of New York featured in the first “Avengers” movie, only this time we see events through the eyes of Kate Bishop, a young girl living in a beautiful NYC penthouse with her parents. As her home takes a pounding from alien invaders, Kate is saved by an arrow from Renner’s Clint Barton. Reeling from the death of her father, Kate asks her mother for a bow and arrow, and vows never to allow herself to be helpless again.

Two years after the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Clint is in New York with his family, trying to squeeze as much Christmas cheer as possible out of the holidays, while still struggling with hearing loss (from all the explosions), the trauma of the last few years, and his secret past as the murderous vigilante Ronin. When a now-adult Kate (Hailee Steinfeld) winds up stealing the Ronin suit and attracting the attention of some shady underworld types, Clint reluctantly dusts off his superhero gear and resolves to set things right.

Hawkeye has always been the least theatrical of the MCU Avengers, and Renner’s reluctant hero feels right at home in this lower-stakes, holiday-themed limited series. (The first two episodes were available from launch, with weekly instalments on the way.) 

“Hawkeye” is guilty of some missteps, with plot holes wider than an exploded penthouse, but Renner and Steinfeld have sublime chemistry — he as the cynical, aching superhero and she as his overenthusiastic sidekick (and, presumably, eventual Avengers replacement). 

It’s just charming enough to make you overlook its flaws.