In the line of fire: Angelina Jolie on ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’

In the line of fire: Angelina Jolie on ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’
“Those Who Wish Me Dead” is Jolie’s latest film. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 May 2021

In the line of fire: Angelina Jolie on ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’

In the line of fire: Angelina Jolie on ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’
  • Angelina Jolie and co-stars discuss shooting Taylor Sheridan’s latest movie

DUBAI: It has been two decades since Angelina Jolie, one of the world’s top movie stars, began dedicating herself to helping the people of the world most in need, working with the UNHCR to visit refugee camps across the Middle East and the world.

As renowned as she is for her acting and directing, it is her humanitarian work that is closest to her heart, and through all the tumult that she has gone through in her life, it’s the one thing that has kept her grounded.

“We’re all connected,” Jolie tells Arab News. “A life in service of others makes us better. It makes us grow.”

Jolie’s latest film, “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, may not, on its surface, mirror the mission that Jolie has been following for the most important decades of her life, but it shares those same themes.




“Those Who Wish Me Dead” is written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. (Supplied)

In it, she plays Hannah, an elite firefighter called a smokejumper based in the wooded hills of Montana in the northern United States who risks her life at the first sign of a forest fire by parachuting directly into the flames. She’s plagued by the memory of a group of young boys she wasn’t able to save from a fire years earlier. While camped out in the woods, she comes in contact with a young boy on the run from two hitmen, and by helping save the boy, she saves herself.

For Jolie, while the arc of the character is ultimately about the importance of selflessness, she had to keep first and foremost in her mind that Hannah was a troubled character who lacks the maternal instincts that Jolie herself, the mother of six children, has in spades.

“[At first], they are both struggling to be around each other. She doesn't actually hold him closer to her. But it's that interesting moment we see as he says, ‘Are you someone I can trust?’ I think in that moment, she has no idea who she is. If you're somebody that feels like you've failed in your life and you're in grief and somebody comes to you and says, ‘Are you somebody who can help me? Can I trust you? Can you be the person that protects me?’ You want to be, but you can't imagine you are,” says Jolie.

It’s no surprise that Hannah is so broken—after all, she has walked through the fire both literally and spiritually, over and over. While the title of the film seems to be a reference to the hitmen in pursuit of the young boy, Jolie interprets it as being about Hannah.

“It's funny, during filming we used to joke, after Hannah gets hit by lightning, what else can happen to her? It's like the universe is trying to kill her — it’s the universe that wishes her dead. I think most of us have felt that in life. You feel for a moment that you're just completely up against it and what more can be thrown at you or who else can attack? But yes, definitely, we grow stronger. We grow stronger if we survive it,” says Jolie.

While the phrase ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is oft repeated, for Jolie, the concept of what ‘stronger’ means needs to be more deeply interrogated.

“You go through the fire, but how do you come out the other end? Did you come out bitter, angry, broken, at a loss and overwhelmed? Or did you come out of it where your spirit got stronger, you confronted your fears, you protected others? And within that fire you found something that made you stronger,” says Jolie.

The fires were not only both literal and spiritual for her character; they were in fact a real part of the shoot. Director Taylor Sheridan avoided using computer-generated imagery to add to the film’s realism.

“He's amazing. He built a fake forest to light it on fire instead of using CG, because he wants to immerse his actors in what's going on and make them understand what the character's going through,” says Finn Little, who plays Connor, the young boy Hannah protects.

The realism extended past the flames. Through Sheridan’s films “Sicario,” “Hell or High Water” and “Wind River,” he has become his country’s premiere chronicler of rural America, with “Those Who Wish Me Dead” continuing that mission with a keen eye and a true heart.

That’s something that has kept actor Jon Bernthal, who plays a police officer named Harrison in the film, coming back to work with Sheridan, with whom he previously worked on “Sicario” and “Wind River.”

“I think Taylor Sheridan is a great American storyteller. He understands the West, he understands the wilderness and what it means to live off the land. If you look at all his films, there’s a richness and authenticity to them,” says Bernthal.


Rags to riches: Italian project launched to help refugees, migrants start fashion career

Rags to riches: Italian project launched to help refugees, migrants start fashion career
Updated 22 June 2021

Rags to riches: Italian project launched to help refugees, migrants start fashion career

Rags to riches: Italian project launched to help refugees, migrants start fashion career
  • “Fashion Deserves the World” is an initiative by the National Chamber of Italian Fashion (Camera della Moda)
  • Project will give the young refugees and migrants an opportunity to study fashion and find work in Italian companies

ROME: Fifteen young refugees and migrants living in Italy will be given the chance to launch a career in fashion.

The project, called “Fashion Deserves the World,” is an initiative by the National Chamber of Italian Fashion (Camera della Moda). 

It will give the young refugees and migrants an opportunity to study fashion and find work in Italian companies, giving them new lives from the places they fled. 

Camera della Moda has been given the patronage of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a UN project on ethical fashion.

“Fashion Deserves the World” was introduced at the end of Milan Men’s Fashion Week as a part of the initiatives organized in Italy for World Refugee Day, in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Mygrants, a startup that provides micro-learning programs in three languages to help migrants consolidate their knowledge and find a job.

“Giving an opportunity is an extraordinary opportunity,” said President of Camera della Moda Carlo Capasa in a press conference attended by Arab News.

“‘Fashion Deserves the World’ is not just an opportunity for refugees but also for Italian companies. With retirements scheduled to cover the next three to four years, we estimate that there will be nearly 40,000 vacant jobs in the Italian fashion sector,” Capasa added.

“A minimum of two years is necessary to train new professional figures in this field, and it would be a disaster if we lost the outstanding quality of our fashion craftsmen who will leave their jobs without heirs if we do not train somebody else so that their unique skills will not be lost.”

Talented migrants and refugees could continue the tradition of Italian fashion craftsmen. “In this sense migrants and refugees can be our assets, and fashion could be theirs,” Capasa said.

“We are starting with this small project, which we hope will soon become a big one. For the moment it is a stone in the pond, but we expect something bigger to come at some point,” he said, calling for “specific training paths set by the government with a preference for talented migrants and refugees.”

Laura Iucci, the head of private sector partnerships for UNHCR Italia, said: “In this operation, everybody wins. Companies need a turnover of well-trained and motivated people and, according to the latest macroeconomic studies, the diversity brought by migrants is an added value. The National Chamber of Italian Fashion is now forging a new path.”

Applications are open to migrants, refugees and stateless people with a good knowledge of the Italian language and a strong desire to work in the fashion sector.

The applications must be sent through the Mygrants website, where they will be examined by experts from the National Chamber of Italian Fashion in Milan.

The 15 finalists will attend training sessions and then start working at companies associated with the Camera della Moda across Italy.


Actress Jameela Jamil is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Actress Jameela Jamil is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe
She is set to play Titania, who is the longterm arch nemesis of She-Hulk. Instagram
Updated 22 June 2021

Actress Jameela Jamil is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Actress Jameela Jamil is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe

DUBAI: Jameela Jamil is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s been announced that the British-Indian-Pakistani actress and body positivity activist will be joining the cast of streaming service Disney+’s new MCU series, “She-Hulk,” premiering in 2022.

Jamil, who gained prominence for her role as Tahani Jamil on NBC’s “The Good Place,”  is set to play Titania, who is the longterm arch nemesis of She-Hulk.

As reported by Cinema Blend, Jamil’s villainous character will have the superpowers of super strength and super stamina.

Meanwhile, She-Hulk will be played by “Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany.

The series is premiering in 2022. Supplied

The actresses will star alongside Renee Elise Goldsberry, Ginger Gonzaga and Tim Roth.

Deadline reports that Mark Ruffalo will make an appearance at one point as the Hulk. 

“She-Hulk” was written by Jim Shooter and Matt Zeck in 1984.

The plot revolves around Maslany's character Jennifer Walters, who gets a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner –better known as the Hulk. After the transfusion, Walters gains super strength and her skin turns green.

Jessica Gao from “Rick and Morty” is the lead writer, while Kat Coiro and Anu Valia are co-directing. 

Jamil, who was born to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father in London, also stars in a new Disney Junior series, “Mira Royal Detective,” in which she voices the aunt of a headstrong young investigator.

Outside of acting, the star is also known for her activism and her I Weigh body positivity movement that she founded in 2018.

Jamil, who started her career as a model and a BBC Radio 1 presenter, is also an MC and a judge on the HBO Max series “Legendary.”


The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic
Updated 22 June 2021

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

The ‘Quaranteen’ Project: Dubai photographer unites international teenagers during the pandemic

DUBAI: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has sparked new ideas for many entrepreneurs, creatives and artists. One such creative is Dubai-based photographer Tanya Rex.

The South African lenswoman launched The Quaranteen Project, which is ongoing to this date, when lockdowns began last year.   

She sent 30 disposable cameras to 30 teenagers across the world and asked them to document their quarantine experience. The results are unedited and moving realities of the pandemic as seen through the eyes of teenagers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Belarus, Afghanistan, Latvia, South Africa, India, the US, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and more. 

“I wanted it to be as raw as possible and capture the simplicity of what people see every day,” she said in an interview with Arab News.

This image was taken by a teenager in the United States. (Supplied)

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I remember speaking to my husband, and he said: ‘You don’t know these people. They aren’t photographers, and you really don’t know what you are going to get back. Maybe you could use pictures from five of the cameras that come back.’ And I accepted that,” Rex added.

She has so far received 24 rolls of film back, with around 300-400 images. 

Not all rolls of film came back as properly exposed pictures. “Some of them came back with very little effort put in, and some of them came back absolutely exceptional,” she said. 

“It didn’t really matter if I got one photo or 20. Each time, it was like receiving a gift,” Rex added. 

When enough cameras came back to the photographer, she sent the films to South Africa so they could be developed and scanned. 

This image was taken by a teenager in Latvia. (Supplied)

According to Rex, who came to the UAE 17 years ago, it was not easy to deliver the cameras to the teenagers. 

She lost some cameras due to theft, while others took time to be delivered due to the COVID-19 restrictions in some countries.

When discussing the inception of her idea, Rex said that lockdown was exciting for her when it first started.

“I remember seeing an initiative called ‘Together at Home,’ where celebrities invited you into their homes for their private concerts. I thought the idea was incredible. It meant the world was stepping up and we were all uniting,” she said.  

“After two weeks, though, the novelty wore off, and we all settled into the reality of what COVID-19 was,” she added.

This image was taken by a teenager for The ‘Quaranteen’ Project. (Supplied)

The photographer said she went from being enthusiastic at the prospect of having time off to realizing that all her work had been canceled and that there was nothing to look forward to for an indefinite amount of time. It was then that she had the idea to start The Quaranteen Project.

Rex is currently looking into turning her project into a coffee table book. “I think it would be a great way to show these teenagers’ stories in a simple format,” she said. 

Rex has worked for campaigns with international brands including fast-food company McDonald’s and makeup brands Maybelline, Bourjois and Max Factor, among others.   

Her latest campaign was with Adidas — a shoot for the German sportswear giant’s “Run for the Oceans” campaign. 

“It was a great project because, firstly, I got to shoot underwater again, which I haven’t done for a very long time,” she said. “It was also empowering because we were shooting women who have perceived disabilities and differences. They are all proud, strong women who are moving forward with their lives.” 


DJ Khaled, Salma Hayek to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

DJ Khaled, Salma Hayek to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
DJ Khaled is among 38 celebrities to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. File/AFP
Updated 22 June 2021

DJ Khaled, Salma Hayek to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

DJ Khaled, Salma Hayek to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

DUBAI: DJ Khaled and Salma Hayek are among 38 celebrities to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a famous stretch of sidewalk along the Hollywood Boulevard that celebrates some of the most successful entertainers in the industry via a brass star bearing the name of producers, actors, musicians and directors.

Taking to Instagram this week, the US-Palestinian producer who gave us “Wild Thoughts” expressed his gratitude for receiving the Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by DJ KHALED (@djkhaled)

His family also celebrated the music producer by presenting him with a star-shaped cake on Father’s Day.

“Thank you so much! I love my queen, my boys, I love my family! So much! GRATEFUL! Amazing Father’s Day!” he captioned a video shared with his 24.9 million Instagram followers.

US-Mexican actress Hayek, whose father is part-Lebanese, is also set to nab a star on the historic boulevard.

Hayek posted a throwback picture of herself on Instagram with a surprised expression and captioned it: “Today I am combining a #tbt picture with very recent news, because this image represents how surprised and happy I was a few minutes ago when my team showed me the announcement that I am getting the star in the Hollywood walk of fame! Thank you to the fans for their support through the years.”

The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,690 stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard. 

The selection panel, made up of fellow Walk of Famers, handpicks a group of honorees each year that represent various genres of the entertainment world.

Other artists picked to be honored with a star alongside DJ Khaled include the late Nipsey Hussle, Avril Lavigne, Michael B. Jordan and Ashanti.

Nipsey Hussle isn’t the only late entertainer who was selected posthumously. Carrie Fisher, who died of cardiac arrest in December 2016 at age 60, was also picked in the motion picture category.

Honorees have two years to schedule a star ceremony from the date of their selection.


Kylie Jenner flaunts custom-made ‘Kylie’ heels by Lebanon’s Andrea Wazen 

Kylie Jenner flaunts custom-made ‘Kylie’ heels by Lebanon’s Andrea Wazen 
Updated 22 June 2021

Kylie Jenner flaunts custom-made ‘Kylie’ heels by Lebanon’s Andrea Wazen 

Kylie Jenner flaunts custom-made ‘Kylie’ heels by Lebanon’s Andrea Wazen 

DUBAI: Kylie Jenner championed yet another Arab designer this month. 

The reality TV star and entrepreneur stepped out last week in a pair of heels by Lebanese footwear designer Andrea Wazen. 

Jenner wore the ‘Kylie’ pumps by Andrea Wazen to the 72nd Annual Parsons’s Benefit in New York City. The pumps featured a 10.5cm heel, PVC translucent upper and pointed-sole, with a shimmering olive green leather at the heel matching Jenner’s forest green dress. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner)

These shoes were created for the mother-of-one as a custom-style, and will be available to the public from August 2021 in a variety of colors on andreawazen.com.

The Kylie Cosmetics founder’s picture in Wazen’s design went viral because she posed alongside her on and off partner rapper Travis Scott and their three-year-old daughter Stormi. 

The pumps featured a 10.5cm heel, PVC translucent upper and pointed-sole, with a shimmering olive green leather at the heel matching Jenner’s forest green dress. (AFP)

Just last week, one of Jordanian-Romanian designer Amina Muaddi’s Instagram posts showed Jenner — carrying Stormi — stepping out in a pair of white boots by Muaddi called “the Pernille bootie.” 

The businesswoman also accessorized her look with the brand’s Pernille handbag from the designer’s newly launched line.