Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art
Made up of a hundred short fables, written in Arabic and showcasing 96 artworks, it began in 2012 when Saad Almotham found his niche, initially using Twitter to share the stories in 140 and, later, 280 characters. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 September 2021

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art

Painting the words: ‘Sauce of Mango’ mixes between the beauty of Arabic fables and art
  • The book fits all age groups but primarily caters to an older audience as some stories have dark themes

JEDDAH: Finding the right art to represent literary work is a challenge. With so much to choose from, one Saudi author decided to get help through an art platform for diversity and inclusion.

Saad Almotham mixed with his literary work with artwork provided by a group of 56 Saudi and Arab artists to create a book that is an art project in itself, titled “Sauce of Mango.”

Made up of a hundred short fables, written in Arabic and showcasing 96 artworks, it began in 2012 when Almotham found his niche, initially using Twitter to share the stories in 140 and, later, 280 characters. 

“I had a word limit and I had to tell a story within that limit, and that’s quite a challenge,” he said. “I often had to go back and forth through the stories I wanted to tweet as I wanted them to be meaningful and short at the same time.”

It was after posting 200 stories that Almotham got the idea of compiling them in a book. He selected 100, and decided on the title after the main character from one short fable.

“The main character is afraid of trying new things and I too was experiencing something new, so I chose his name as a reference to my own story in writing as we’re both trying to create something new and different,” said Almotham. 

The book fits all age groups but primarily caters to an older audience as some stories have dark themes.

For the artwork, the author wanted to select things that would accommodate the storyline best. With the help of artists through the Fitrh Art platform, he was able to have a unique and distinct piece of art for most of his literary works.

Fitrh Art is a platform that serves as a home to Arab artists interested in being part of a storytelling adventure. 

Selected artists were given the stories and worked on the ones that attracted them the most. “I didn’t interfere much with the artists past the initial rough sketch, I wanted to preserve their style and what they were comfortable with. I didn’t want it to look like a comic book, I wanted it to be a work of art,” said Almotham.

Hana Kanee, a 29-year-old Saudi artist, was part of the creative set that contributed to the book.

“I didn’t know the author beforehand; I found this opportunity through Instagram and the way they showcased it was ‘as a collection of stories where animals will be expressing themselves through Arabic poetry,’ it sounded very creative and made me imagine the possibilities,” she artist told Arab News. 

Kanee chose the stories that resonated with her most. She described the process as fun, saying that “the stories made me laugh immediately and the artist’s description of the stories was very colorful, which is perfect for my artwork. It reminded me of my childhood as well.”

The artists had the freedom to bring their creative talent to the mix and were given enough space to pursue it.

Bringing the book together proved to be quite a challenge for Almotham; he said he felt like it was impossible at times. The pandemic did not help this initial dread, and he added: “The fact that we were able to pull it off and put this project out in the world makes me feel very proud.” 

Once the book was complete, the author organized an online art exhibition in collaboration with the Fitrh Art platform, where they showcased the artwork with the stories as a description. 

Almotham is currently working on the English translation of the book, and hopes to publish it soon.

“During the exhibition we roughly translated the stories and those too were very well received, so I thought I should work on the translation for English readers to enjoy.”


El Gouna Film Festival screens award-winning films ‘Amira,’ ‘Feathers’ to mixed reactions

El Gouna Film Festival screens award-winning films ‘Amira,’ ‘Feathers’ to mixed reactions
Updated 20 October 2021

El Gouna Film Festival screens award-winning films ‘Amira,’ ‘Feathers’ to mixed reactions

El Gouna Film Festival screens award-winning films ‘Amira,’ ‘Feathers’ to mixed reactions

DUBAI: Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival on Tuesday screened Egyptian director Mohamed Diab’s award-winning movie “Amira,” which made its global premiere at the 78th edition of the Venice Film Festival this year.

The film revolves around Amira, a 17-year-old Palestinian who has gone through life believing she is the biological daughter of a Palestinian prisoner serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail.

The film, which is set in Palestine’s West Bank, features a stellar pan-Arab cast, including Jordanian star Saba Mubarak, Palestinian-Israeli actor Ali Suliman and emerging Jordanian actress Tara Abboud, who landed her first leading role as Amira.

The film revolves around Amira, a 17-year-old Palestinian who has gone through life believing she is the biological daughter of a Palestinian prisoner serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail. (El Gouna Film Festival)

“Amira” won two prestigious awards at the Venice International Film Festival — the Lanterna Magica Award and the Interfilm Award.

It is competing for the Feature Narrative Award at El Gouna.

The movie was also screened at the recent Toronto Film Festival. 

On Monday, the festival screened the Egyptian film “Feathers,” directed by Omar El-Zohairy. 

However, the film — which won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics Week — sparked controversy at the event and on social media. 

Some Egyptian filmmakers and actors, including Sherif Mounir, Ahmed Rizk and Ashraf Abdel Baqi, left the screening of the film because they thought the movie offends Egypt. 

Some Egyptian filmmakers and actors, including Sherif Mounir, left the screening of the film because they thought the movie offends Egypt. (AFP)

“Feathers” tells the story of a mother who dedicates her life to her husband and children. When a magic trick goes wrong at her four-year-old son’s birthday party, an avalanche of coincidental absurdities befalls the family. The magician turns her husband, the authoritarian father, into a chicken. 

The mother is now forced to come to the fore and take care of the family while trying to bring her husband back. As she tries to survive, she goes through a rough transformation. 

In a phone interview with Egyptian host Amr Adib on his show “Al-Hekaya,” Mounir said: “When I left (the screening), I was followed by others right after me. What I saw, and the film’s picture, portrays us (Egyptians) in a negative way. It shows people suffering in an abnormal way.

“Even poor areas, that ‘were’ there, didn’t live that badly. I was disappointed to be honest. I was also disappointed that when it premiered abroad, it won awards,” he said. “I no longer see this picture (or these struggles) in our country.”

Egyptian film “Feathers” is directed by Omar El-Zohairy. (Supplied)

“I don’t know what the people who awarded the film liked in this movie,” he added.  

Egyptian news agency Al-Masry Al-Youm shared a released statement by the festival that says: “El-Gouna Film Festival values and appreciates all filmmakers in the world for their art and their outstanding cinematic experiences. The festival team selects films based on artistic and cinematic qualities, according to the standards of international film festivals.

“This year, in its fifth edition, the selection of the film ‘Feathers’ by Egyptian director Omar El-Zohairy is in line with the film selection process, based on his success in other international forums,” added the statement.  

Speaking about its Cannes award, the festival’s organizers added: “It is the first Egyptian film to receive such a prestigious award. It also won the Grand Prix of the Pingyao Festival in China yesterday. It will be screened at the next Carthage Film Festival.

“Regarding the views of many Egyptian and international critics, the film’s setting and time were not identified… the festival did not and will not show any film without obtaining official permits, to confirm that it does not bear any offense or grudge in any of its films,” read the statement. 


KSA’s Red Sea Film Festival opens in-person accreditation

KSA’s Red Sea Film Festival opens in-person accreditation
Updated 20 October 2021

KSA’s Red Sea Film Festival opens in-person accreditation

KSA’s Red Sea Film Festival opens in-person accreditation

JEDDAH: The 3rd annual Red Sea Film Festival has opened its doors to cinema world enthusiasts to register and receive accreditation for the inaugural in-person edition of the most anticipated cinematic event of the year.

From red carpet premieres  and concerts, an industry program, workshops, interactive community events to acclaimed festival gems and beautifully restored treasures, the festival will be held in Saudi Arabia’s most evocative historical quarter — Jeddah Old Town — from Dec. 6-15.  It is an annual festival, launched in 2019, but the past two editions were held virtually due to the pandemic.

With more than 100 films from around the world to be showcased, including the best cinematic works from the region, the festival will provide industry professionals with an exclusive opportunity to be part of a unique experience.

The festival provide a platform for Arab filmmakers and industry professionals from around the world to connect, host feature and short film competitions, and present a series of events, master classes, and workshops to support emerging talent. 


From Beyonce to singer Tinashe, Arab label Marzook snaps up celebrity fans

From Beyonce to singer Tinashe, Arab label Marzook snaps up celebrity fans
Updated 19 October 2021

From Beyonce to singer Tinashe, Arab label Marzook snaps up celebrity fans

From Beyonce to singer Tinashe, Arab label Marzook snaps up celebrity fans

DUBAI: Kuwaiti label Marzook is continuing to snap up celebrity fans, with US singer Tinashe and superstar Beyonce spotted sporting its curved creations in recent days.

Tinashe, famous for her hit song “2 On,” showed off a pill-shaped bag by the brand during a photoshoot for A Book Of digital and print magazine this month.

The singer was photographed in a retro look, complete with a white hairband, larger-than-life hair and a sleek cat eye. Styled by Wilford Lenov, the ensemble featured a glittering Marzook bag called the Pill Dusty Pink.

Meanwhile, Beyonce was photographed with the Kuwaiti arm candy in Italy over the weekend.

The world-famous singer was photographed outside Alexandre Arnault’s wedding to Geraldine Guyot in Venice, Italy, on Saturday. Guyot is the founder of the French brand D’Estrëe, while Arnault is the son of one of the world’s richest men, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, and the executive vice president of product and communications at Tiffany & Co.

The singer showed off a bag by Marzook during a recent photoshoot for A Book Of magazine. (Instagram)

For the occasion, Beyoncé opted for a Tiffany-blue silk gown and heels with a Dolce & Gabbana double-breasted wool coat. She accessorized the look with a Marzook crystal orb purse and Lorraine Schwartz diamond jewelry.

Helmed by Kuwaiti siblings Fahad and Shouq Al-Marzooq, the Beirut-based accessories brand was established in 2014. The brother sister duo started off in the fashion industry by designing pieces for their family and friends and quickly went on to garner worldwide attention and sign celebrity collaboration deals.

In 2019, US influencer and model Sofia Richie, singer Lionel Richie’s daughter, collaborated on a new line of handbags with the label.  

 “When you’re one of social media’s most popular style stars, your style influence is extremely crucial.  Sofia’s style is very much aligned with the Marzook girl, who rather than follows trends, creates trends,” the fashion label wrote on its website at the time.

The collaboration featured Marzook’s perennial favorite, the spherical Lucid Classic bag, in a new set of neon shades — “Powerful Pink, Neon- Z Green and Traffic Cone Orange.”

And those are not the only celebrities who have shown love for the Arab brand.

Kylie Jenner showed off a crystal-covered orb bag by the label on her birthday in 2018, triggering many a newspaper headline.

The accessories house’s bags have been sported by the likes of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, actress Lupita Nyong’o and model Cara Delevingne.

The label’s line of accessories consists of exotic leather and skins, precious metals and resins in pill or spherical shapes.


Angelina Jolie’s iconic Elie Saab gown nabs spotlight at ‘Eternals’ premiere

Angelina Jolie’s iconic Elie Saab gown nabs spotlight at ‘Eternals’ premiere
Updated 19 October 2021

Angelina Jolie’s iconic Elie Saab gown nabs spotlight at ‘Eternals’ premiere

Angelina Jolie’s iconic Elie Saab gown nabs spotlight at ‘Eternals’ premiere

LOS ANGELES: Actors Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek brought Hollywood glamor to the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ latest comic book adaptation, “Eternals,” this week.

Jolie attended the red carpet with her four children, who she shares with her ex-husband Brad Pitt.

For the ocassion,  46-year-old actress lent her daughter Zahara her sequined Elie Saab gown that she wore to the Oscars in 2014, sparking many an international headline.

It’s not often mother-to-daughter hand-me-downs include iconic dresses by a Lebanese designer.

“My kids are all mixed with vintage, and in my old Oscars dress,” she said. “We did all vintage and upcycled my old stuff,” Jolie told Entertainment Tonight on the red carpet.

Angelina Jolie at the 2014 Academy Awards. (AFP)

Directed by Chloe Zhao, who won best director and best picture for the film “Nomadland” at the Oscars earlier this year, “Eternals” boasts one of the most diverse casts of any Marvel movie.

Actress Salma Hayek arrives for the world premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Eternals” at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles. (AFP)

“I hope it just starts to normalize what should have been there in the first place,” Jolie told Reuters. “I hope people watch these films in years to come and we don’t even think about it as being diverse.” 

The film stars Syrian refugee-turned-actor Zain Al-Rafeea as part of the star-studded cast, who plays the role of a villager who comes across the Eternals when they arrive on Earth.

Delayed a year due to the pandemic, “Eternals” will finally hit cinemas on Nov. 5 in the Middle East. 


Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 
Updated 18 October 2021

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

DUBAI: The BFI London Film Festival unveiled its winners for the 2021 edition on Sunday, and two regional films made the cut —“Hit the Road” and “Costa Brava, Lebanon.”

“Hit the Road” won the Best Film award. 

Iranian director Panah Panahi’s drama, which showed at the Cannes Film Festival, is all about the journey. It follows a chaotic family-of-four that goes on a road trip in a borrowed car.

“Costa Brava, Lebanon” stars Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki. (Supplied)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” which stars Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri and Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki, won the Audience Award.  

Lebanese director Mounia Akl’s impassioned feature film debut is an eerie family drama set amid a raging climate crisis in near-future Lebanon.

Read on for the full list of awards:

“Hit the Road,” Panah Panahi, Official Competition (Best Film Award)

“Playground,” Laura Wandel, First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award)

“Becoming Cousteau,” Liz Garbus, Documentary Competition (Grierson Award)

“Only Expansion,” Duncan Speakman, Immersive Art and XR Competition

“Love, Dad,” Diana Cam Van Nguyen, Short Film Competition (Short Film Award)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” Mounia Akl, Audience Award