RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural gaming and esports extravaganza, RUSH Festival, is currently underway in Riyadh. The five-day event, which wraps up on Oct. 26 as part of Riyadh Season 2021, is not short on entertainment.
Video game lovers can compete in more than 18 different gaming tournaments, including Tekken 7, Peggy, Overwatch, FIFA 2022, Call of Duty and many more.
Visitors are encouraged to dress up as their favorite video game or anime characters. Fans of the fictional universe who registered for the cosplay contest will compete for “best costume” and stand to win a grand prize of $18,662.
You can buy a souvenir for yourself or your loved ones from the many pop-up shops dotted throughout the venue.
If you’re looking to fuel up, there is no shortage of restaurants and cafes to pick and choose from, including local eateries such as Ahal Al-Deera.
Catch live performances from a lineup of Saudi Arabia-based DJs, including DJ Vegas, DJ Bassel and DJ Memo Max, who will be setting the mood throughout the esports event.
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Review: Benedict Cumberbatch plays against type in ‘The Power of the Dog’
Netflix’s Western drama showcases its talented cast, and a director with an eye for detail
Updated 54 sec ago
LONDON: There’s something a bit discombobulating about watching Benedict Cumberbatch swaggering through the Montana mountains in “The Power of the Dog” — the latest movie from New Zealand director Jane Campion. Some of the British actor’s most notable performances, remember, have him as a man of extraordinary precision and poise; characteristics that are a long way from his portrayal of rancher Phil Burbank. That said, such a sense of slight discomfort only serves Campion’s movie, helping to build a sense of something not quite right at the heart of her adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 Western novel, set in 1925.
Phil and his brother George (Jessie Plemons) run a successful ranch. Phil is the practical one, turning his hand (or knife) to anything that needs doing and building an easy rapport with the ranch hands. He calls George ‘fatso’ all the time, and mocks his brother’s aspirations of climbing the societal ladder.
When George marries widowed inn owner Rose (Kirsten Dunst), Phil suspects she’s only after his money. And when Rose and her oddball, effeminate son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) come to live at the ranch, Phil turns outwardly hostile to the pair of them, driving Rose to drink and taunting Peter’s academic pursuits and lack of wilderness skills. Phil offers to take Peter under his wing, teaching the boy to ride and urging him to ‘man up’ and throw off the influence of his mollycoddling mother.
Cumberbatch plays Phil with such sophisticated menace that we’re never sure if his interest in Peter is benevolent, or part of a more sinister plan. Smit-McPhee, also, imbues Peter with such eccentricity that it’s never clear how genuine his foal-like innocence really is — an ever-present unknown that Campion skillfully wields throughout the movie’s long runtime.
“The Power of the Dog” is also staggeringly beautiful, with the rolling hills of New Zealand standing in for Montana and providing breathtaking backdrops to the story’s very human dynamics. While the final act drags its feet ever so slightly, the film remains a stylish masterclass in slow-burn character development.
‘We need to invent another way of living,’ says Moroccan artist Abderrahim Yamou
The acclaimed veteran artist has placed nature at the heart of his work for decades
Updated 27 min 24 sec ago
LONDON: The paintings of Moroccan artist Abderrahim Yamou give a fresh and sometimes startling perspective on the wonders of the natural world. Yamou, it seems, notices details which most miss — so, a seed is portrayed in all its splendor and given the same prominence as a tree trunk or a flower. It’s like walking into a new dimension, where normal proportions and perspectives no longer apply.
Yamou says his science background shaped his acute observation of nature. As an undergraduate, he studied biology at the University of Toulouse, before earning the French equivalent of a Master’s degree in the history of contemporary art in Morocco at the Sorbonne. It wasn’t until 1986, however, aged 27, that he decided to commit himself fully to art.
Yamou’s imagination is also fired by his homeland of Morocco. Born in Casablanca in 1959, he showed a leaning towards art from an early age, drawing on any surface he could find. This artistic drive didn’t come from his father — a blind lottery vendor — or his mother (“I was born in a humble, respectful and caring environment,” he tells Arab News), but he was given the space to be creative, as reflected in the wide range of mediums he uses. Apart from his paintings, Yamou also creates sculptures inspired by traditional African art, most notably N’Kondé statuettes from Bas Congo.
He describes how, early on, he started “working with earth.”
“I mixed the earth with glue and spread it out on a wooden surface. When I kneaded this material, I had a wish to see a green shoot. But that was impossible because the glue sterilized the soil,” he says. “My interest in plants, gardens and trees stems from this time and also has its roots in the south of Morocco, where green symbolizes life and survival.’
That interest has been maintained throughout his life. It’s particularly clear in his series “Branches” and “Chlorophyll” series.
Of the former, he says: “I was interested in the movement and direction that a branch takes to go towards light. On this journey, the plant undergoes constraints which force the branches to contort in order to move forward. I have observed these contortions a lot in my garden and I find them aesthetically beautiful — a poetry of effort and dancing resistance.”
Discussing “Molecule P1,” a painting from the “Chlorophyll” series, he explains: “I am interested in the interior of plants — the molecules that constitute them and the atoms of chlorophyll. In this painting, branches, seeds, flowers and atoms coexist. My view of nature is much more poetic than botanical.”
Yamou currently divides his time between Paris and Tahannaout, a village south of Marrakesh, near the foot of the Atlas Mountains. But the place he most loves to be, he says, is his studio.
“Except for external constraints, I like to be in the workshop every day. It’s a place of research and chosen solitude. I keep the rigor and constancy of my former scientific studies,” he explains.
His close observation of nature over many years has led Yamou to form some carefully considered opinions about how best to look after our planet.
“We are all aware of the growing environmental concerns. But to reverse this, we need more than awareness,” he says. “We need to invent another way of living; we need to make more room for the other inhabitants of the earth — all the other living things, the flora and fauna. We need to realize that plants and animals are also inhabitants of this planet and that their presence contributes to the global balance. We must gradually reduce the number of humans on earth and learn to live with less — except for those who have nothing or very little.”
He encourages people to persevere with their personal efforts to protect the planet, as each and every action is worthwhile and builds a momentum for change.
“While waiting for collective action to take effect, it is not useless to proceed individually to reduce all that appears harmful to us,” he concludes.
Tuwaiq Sculptural Symposium reflects Vision 2030 aim to transform Riyadh
Updated 09 December 2021
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: Two sculptures glisten in the sunlight in an outdoor space in JAX, the recently developed creative district in the industrial zone of Diriyah, just outside of Riyadh. They are part of the third Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium held under the theme of The Poetics of Space, which featured 20 works by Saudi and international artists focusing largely on the interplay between light and shadow.
Some of the large abstract sculptures appear to undulate like waves with their curvaceous forms while others challenge the surrounding desert landscape with their bold geometric forms. Saudi artist Wafa Al-Qunibit’s work Allah is representative of her desire to speak to both the Saudi and international community through intersecting and overlapping circles carved into marble depicting the name of God in Arabic. Karin van Ommeren’s Awareness Stone was created to symbolize eternity through a composition that has no beginning or end.
The 20 sculptors were chosen out of 418 applicants from 71 countries. The selected artists came to Riyadh, where they all created their works over a period of three weeks from Nov. 15 until Dec. 5 from giant blocks of black and white pearl marble imported from Oman. The resulting works are exhibited on site in JAX for four days until Dec.10.
What was crucial to the initiative was the element of cultural exchange — uniting artists from around the world in Riyadh through creative dialogue with the end goal of beautifying the city of Riyadh.
Artists Anna Korver, Haider Alawi Al-Alawi and Kim De Ruysscher announced as winners of the 2021 symposium
The symposium was organized by Riyadh Art, dubbed as one of the world’s largest public art projects of its kind. It is also one of Riyadh’s four megaprojects launched by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, on March 19, 2019. An integral component of Saudi Vision 2030, its mission is to transform Riyadh into a sustainable and environmentally friendly city.
“We tried to update the project this year to make it bigger and more international through workshops and panels and educational programs,” Sarah Alruwayti, architectural project advisor at The Royal Commission for Riyadh City responsible for Riyadh Art, told Arab News. “We aim to create a cultural platform not only for visitors but also for sculptors from around the world to engage with each other. We need to get our talents out into the world and the rest of the world needs to learn about us more.”
“We have 12 projects under Riyadh Art, of which two are annual and 10 are permanent, all of which add a lot of value to the economy and society as they focus on developing roads and bridges and they all encompass art,” Alruwayti said. “The projects work to beautify Riyadh—Riyadh is already beautiful but we are working to add more artistry to the city reflecting Vision 2030’s aims to transform the city into a gallery with no walls.”
Ali Jabbar, the curator of the Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium, founded the event three years ago in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Culture. The first and second symposia, in 2019 and 2020, were held in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter.
This year marks the first time that the symposium takes place under the umbrella of Riyadh Art. Jabbar, with the help of five heads of international museums, including Eike Dieter Schmidt, the director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and Cristiana Collu, the director of Rome’s Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, chose the final selection of 20 sculptors.
“The Tuwaiq symposium is the largest one in the world now in terms of organization, size and quality of sculptures and their artistic and technical value,” Jabbar said. “It has placed the Saudi sculpture scene in the world map.”
The winners of the competition were announced on Dec. 7. First prize was awarded to New Zealand artist Anna Korver for her artwork entitled The Lighthouses triptych, which fused abstract geometrical forms with multiple cultural associations, suggesting female figures. Second prize went to Haider Alawi Al-Alawi of Saudi Arabia for his approach in depicting the landscape through a fusion of abstraction and figuration. His sculpture entitled Beauty evokes the Saudi landscape, featuring the sun, wind and sand. Third prize went to the Belgian Kim De Ruysscher for his Unseen, depicting a figurative form covered in what appears to be a kind of drapery, exploring the concepts of illusion and perception.
The next Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium will take place in 2022.
Red Sea Film Festival a ‘breakthrough’ for Arab and international films, says Jack Lang
According to the Arab World Institute president: ‘A real cultural revolution is underway in Saudi Arabia — it is extraordinary’
Updated 09 December 2021
JEDDAH: The enthusiasm of Jack Lang, president of the Arab World Institute in Paris, is contagious as he shares his thoughts about the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival with Arab News en Francais.
Lang, who also served as minister of culture in his native France in the 1980s and 90s, said that even two years ago he could not have imagined an international film event such as this taking place in Jeddah.
“It was an absurd idea,” he said and yet now “a real cultural revolution is underway in Saudi Arabia” under the direction of the country’s leaders. “It is extraordinary,” he added. In particular, he praised the role Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan has played.
Since cinemas reopened almost three years ago there has been a major cultural renaissance in the Kingdom on all levels, Lang said. He praised the great developments in arts and culture, particularly in film through the launch of the Red Sea Film Festival, which began on Dec. 6 and continues until Dec. 15. Lang said it is an event designed “for Arab cinema” and for international filmmakers to make a breakthrough.
It is also a sign of the winds of change that have been blowing though Saudi Arabia in the past few years, and this is something that is not lost on Lang.
The authorities in the Kingdom understand that “culture, education, knowledge and science” represent the future, he said, and “a source of happiness as well as human and economic development for citizens.”
Support for culture and the arts, in their various forms, has been a significant driver of the longstanding relationship between France and Saudi Arabia. Lang said he is a member of the consultative council to the Royal Commission for AlUla, and that he appreciates the efforts Saudi authorities are making to preserve, renovate and develop this important historical and cultural site not only for Kingdom but for the entire world.
“France is very present (in projects in AlUla) and I, myself, am participating in the development of the splendid site” by helping to organize an exhibition on AlUla, he said. “We plan on making the exhibition international” by taking it to Russia, the US and other countries.
“Here in the Kingdom there is ambition, a vision,” Lang added, as he thanked and congratulated the Saudi authorities for all they have done to develop arts and culture.
“There is a freedom to meet one another and to share” in the Saudi Arabia of today, he said. “I am not saying everything is perfect but I have confidence in humanity and in the ability to invent a new society in Jeddah.”
Indian film director honored to be chosen at RSIFF
Updated 09 December 2021
JEDDAH: On the eve of the Arab premiere of his debut feature, “Paka (River of Blood),” which is screening in competition at the Red Sea International Film Festival, writer-director Nithin Lukose spoke of the “honor” of his film being chosen for the event in Jeddah.
“We are honored to be the lone Indian film to be selected for the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival 2021,” he said. “Being selected in the Competition category, among 16 films from around the world, is a dream come true for us.”
“Paka” is the only Indian film in the Malayalam language selected for screening during the festival. It will have its Arab premiere on Dec. 9 at Vox Cinemas Al-Balad at 6:15 p.m. with a second screening at 2:15 p.m. on Dec.12 at the same venue.
The plot of “Paka,” which stars starring Basil Paulose, Vinitha Koshy, Nithin George, Abhilash Nair, Athul John, Jose Kizhakkkan, Mariyakkutty and Joseph Manikkal, revolves around two feuding families and a young couple that tries to overcome their families’ hatred through love. The film is produced by Raj Rachakonda and Anurag Kashyap.
Lukose, who is in Jeddah for the screening of the film, said he hopes Saudis and the Indian diaspora will pack the cinema during the screenings of the film. “It will be highly encouraging for us,” he added.
Sharing his thoughts on his experience of the festival so far, the filmmaker said: “Initially, we didn’t have any clue how the inaugural film festival would be but we were blown away by its scale and grandeur.”
Lukose said his knowledge of Saudi Arabia was limited before the event but he was quickly overwhelmed by the warmth of the greeting he received from the city and its people.
“Apart from the film festival, we were lucky to be given tours of the historic parts of Jeddah, museums and other places,” he said. “This helped us learn more about Saudi Arabia as a country, as well as its culture. The hospitality extended to us is outstanding.
“We hope more beautiful and unique movies will come out of Saudi Arabia that will tell more about its history and rich culture, which the world knows little about.”
The Red Sea International Film Festival, which began on Dec. 6 and continues until Dec. 15, will screen 138 films from 67 countries in 34 languages.