Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival reveals lineup for ‘International Spectacular’ selection 

The inaugural event will take place from Dec. 6-15 in Jeddah. (Supplied)
The inaugural event will take place from Dec. 6-15 in Jeddah. (Supplied)
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Updated 05 December 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival reveals lineup for ‘International Spectacular’ selection 

The inaugural event will take place from Dec. 6-15 in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Eight must-see films will make up the International Spectacular section demonstrating the vibrancy of global filmmaking at the festival’s inaugural edition

JEDDAH: The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced the lineup of films in its International Spectacular section.

The selection is a curated collection of some of the year’s most powerful stories from iconic, award-winning international filmmaking voices. All eight films in this section will be Arab premieres, showcasing the very best of international cinema to the Arab world.

Edouard Waintrop, artistic director of the festival, which will take place Dec. 6-15, said: “While the Red Sea Film International Festival is undoubtedly about showcasing Arab cinema to the world, it is as much about welcoming international cinema and international filmmakers to the Arab world. The stories told in these films, over half of which are from female filmmakers, portray a vibrant and diverse array of views, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase them all at the festival.”




“You Resemble Me” is by Egyptian-American filmmaker and award-winning journalist Dina Amer. (Supplied)

Kaleem Aftab, director of international programming for the festival, said: “The selection of films on display as part of the International Spectacular are some of the most dynamic and thought-provoking stories being told this year. Filmmakers from across the world are sharing their stories, some deeply personal, others surreal and fantastic, but with all having a profound impact on the audiences viewing them.”

Included in the showcase is “Ennio,” a documentary on one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, Ennio Morricone. Directed by Academy Award and BAFTA-winning writer, director, and actor Giuseppe Tornatore, the film will cover the unforgettable career of the musical maestro, who won two Academy Awards and composed over 500 movie soundtracks.

Tornatore interviews the legend himself, who had a long-established association with the director, having composed the music for 13 Tornatore feature films, including his Academy Award-winning “Cinema Paradiso.”

“Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon,” written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, is a fantasy thriller, telling the story of a girl with unusual powers who escapes from a mental asylum and tries to make it on her own in New Orleans. Starring Jeon Jong-seo, Kate Hudson, Craig Robinson, and Ed Skrein, the film had its world premiere at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.

French-Algerian director Yamina Benguigui’s latest film “Sisters,” starring Isabelle Adjani, tells the story of three French-Algerian sisters: Zorah, Nohra, and Djamila. For 30 years, they have been living in the hope of finding their brother, Rheda, abducted by their father, and hidden in newly decolonized Algeria. When they learn that their father is dying, the three sisters decide to go to Algeria to seize their last opportunity to have him reveal where their brother is.

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut “The Lost Daughter” stars Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, and Jessie Buckley in the film adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel. The psychological drama tells the story of a woman on holiday, who meets another woman and her young family, prompting memories of her own early motherhood. The film had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, with Gyllenhaal winning the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay for her adaptation of the novel.

Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast” is an autobiographical poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amid the music and social tumult of the late 1960s in Northern Ireland. The highly anticipated cinematic tribute to Branagh’s native city is beautifully shot in black-and-white and stars Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, and Ciarán Hinds. The film scooped the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Spanish comedy “The Good Boss” was written and directed by Fernando León de Aranoa. Standing on the industrial outskirts of a small provincial town, for decades Basculas Blanco, played by Javier Bardem, has been making industrial scales for major retail outlets for weighing vehicles and livestock. The good boss likes to tell his workers that Lady Justice holds Blanco’s scales in her hand. The film premiered at this year’s San Sebastian International Film Festival and has been chosen as the Spanish entry for Best International Feature Film at the upcoming 94th Academy Awards.

“You Resemble Me” is the directorial debut of Egyptian-American filmmaker and award-winning journalist Dina Amer. The film, co-written by Amer and Omar Mullick, tells a story of cultural and intergenerational trauma, taking on one of the darkest issues of our time and deconstructing it in an intimate story about family, love, sisterhood, and belonging. After two sisters on the outskirts of Paris are torn apart, the eldest, Hasna, struggles to find her identity, leading to a choice that shocks the world. The film had its world premiere in the Venice Days section of this year’s Venice International Film Festival.

Based on a true story, Bridgerton star Phoebe Dynevor plays Clarice Cliff, a remarkable figure who revolutionized the British pottery industry in the 1920s. Sky original film “The Colour Room,” directed by Claire McCarthy, is a fabulous period drama showing how Cliff battled against the odds in a world run by men to establish herself as a pioneering ceramic artist, impressing an eccentric factory owner (Matthew Goode) with her ingenuity. Director Claire McCarthy makes a brilliant mark by highlighting the battles women had to win to be heard in the workplace in a feel-good tale of talent, determination, and perseverance.


Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara

Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara
The 21-year-old stars in the Weekend Max Mara Spring 2022 campaign. Instagram
Updated 23 January 2022

Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara

Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model Nora Attal is starring in a new campaign for Weekend Max Mara, the sister brand of Max Mara’s mainline collections.

Lensed by Eddie Wrey, Attal features in a video and campaign images set along a rocky stretch of coast in Capo Malfatano, Italy.

The 21-year-old catwalk star features in the stunning video advertorial wearing key pieces from the label’s Spring 2022 collection.

She can be seen wearing a beige knit sweater with yarn tassels worn with matching cream-colored trousers paired with loafers and the brand’s Pasticcino bag.

In the 15-second-long clip, Attal can also be seen wearing a belted trench coat, a flowy shirt dress cinched at the waist with a belt and a matching pinstriped trousers and jacket combination.

According to the brand, the Spring 2022 advertising campaign “portrays the protagonist in the summer wardrobe you have always wished for.”

The collection boasts a wide range of summer-ready styles from reinvented classics and summer-ready essentials to cashmere sweaters emblazoned with butterflies and cotton trousers. Tweed miniskirts, leather pouches and linen blouses are among the other items that jostle for attention in the label’s new collection.

The model has been keeping quite busy. She recently appeared in the holiday campaign for German label Boss, alongside Australian actor Chris Hemsworth.

Attal has forged a position as one of the most in-demand models in the world at the moment — Models.com currently ranks her as one of the top 50 models worldwide.

Based in London and singed to Viva Model Management, Attal has walked for renowned fashion houses such as Prada, Fendi, Dior, Chanel and Versace, to name a few, in addition to appearing in the pages of publications such as Vogue magazine.

Born to Moroccan parents in the UK, the model was first discovered by Jonathan Anderson, founder of the J.W. Anderson label, and shot a campaign for the British fashion house in 2014, before making her runway debut three years later.

Attal is among the growing list of Arab models breaking ground in the industry, including Italian-Moroccan Malika El-Maslouhi, part-Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Moroccan-Egyptian Imaan Hammam and French-Algerian Loli Bahia, to name a few.

 


Meet the Saudi architect designing the metaverse

Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
Updated 22 January 2022

Meet the Saudi architect designing the metaverse

Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
  • Sattom Alasad wanted to use online spaces dominating people's lives to provide a tranquil, otherworldly escape
  • These digital spaces are also a way for Alasad to express and explore her Saudi heritage

LOS ANGELES: Saudi architect Sattom Alasad has expanded from designing physical buildings to virtual ones.

Collectively known as a metaverse, digital spaces like Alasad’s allow users online to immersively interact with the environment and each other, and the technology world is looking at them as the next big thing.

“A lot of big companies are investing millions of dollars to own digital land so it’s only natural that the digital real estate is also going to go up in value and is going to be in demand,” digital artist and architect Alasad said. “So as an architect, I am trying to actively participate in developing and designing that digital world for us.”

Metaverse development has been pushed forward due in part to the increased number of people working and interacting remotely during the pandemic.

Alasad wanted to use the online spaces dominating people's lives to provide a tranquil, otherworldly escape.

“A lot of what was going on in the world around us was weighing down on us, so I wanted to take that as an opportunity to start developing my dream world,” she told Arab News.

“I’m currently working on translating my designs to be sold as NFTs where the owner can choose to host the spaces in the metaverse or the digital world where they can be experienced fully and immersively through virtual reality.” 

These digital spaces are also a way for Alasad to express and explore her Saudi heritage, incorporating familiar design elements from her home.

Of all her projects, the one closest to her heart was a collaboration with the charitable collective of MENA region creators, Ya Habibi Market.

“Creating and sharing art is an incredible way to meet and connect with other creatives who live in LA whether they’re from Saudi or other parts of the Arab world.

“So in some ways I found it I would say more empowering to try to connect and understand my culture while being away from it.”


US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 
Updated 22 January 2022

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

DUBAI: US YouTuber Brittany Xavier has been spotted wearing a pair of sunglasses from Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen’s eponymous accessories line By Karen Wazen.

The social media star, who has over 1.7 million Instagram followers and more than 4.6 million TikTok supporters, opted for the Ellis shades, a pair of rectangular-frame sunglasses in black. 

The 34-year-old blogger, famous for her fashion, beauty and digital marketing-related blogs, wore a full leather suit, which she paired with a hot purple bag by Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe, as she strolled down the streets of Los Angeles.  

On her YouTube channel, which has around 443,000 subscribers, the full-time content creator documents her life with her husband, Anthony Xavier, and her two daughters, Jadyn and Poppy Xavier. 

She started her career in 2013. “I started my blog as a hobby in hopes of turning this into my full-time career,” she said in one of her YouTube videos. 

The mother recently welcomed her second child, Poppy, whom she gave birth to 14 years after her first girl. 

Meanwhile, Dubai-based entrepreneur and influencer Wazen launched her debut collection of eyewear in December 2018. The first line came in acetate and stainless steel and in an array of colors, from neon to tortoiseshell.

Less than a year after the official launch of her brand, her designs were picked up by major e-tailer Farfetch, which became the first online platform to offer her eyewear collection.

Now with a large collection of stylish shades, the label has gained the nod of approval from international celebrities including British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa, reality television star Kourtney Kardashian, French model Cindy Bruna, and American singer Becky G, along with a number of regional influencers and trendsetters such as Lebanese blogger Nathalie Fanj, Lebanese-Canadian actress Cynthia Samuel, and Iraqi influencer Deema Al-Asadi.

Among her loyal customers is US music sensation Demi Lovato, who championed the designer’s pieces multiple times. 

The two-time Grammy nominee owns Wazen’s Glamorous shades, a pair of cat-eye-shaped sunglasses in green lenses and a clear frame, and a pair of Kennys, which are rectangular-shaped with brown lenses and a transparent frame.


‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74
Updated 21 January 2022

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74
  • The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions
  • After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with his biggest success in 1993: the single "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"

WASHINGTON: US singer Meat Loaf, famous for his “Bat Out of Hell” rock anthem, has died aged 74, after a career in which he sold more than 100 million albums and appeared in scores of movies.
“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side,” read a statement on his Facebook page early on Friday.
“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.” No cause of death was given.
The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions.
His 1977 “Bat out of Hell” album, which reportedly sold some 43 million copies, is one of the highest-selling ever.
After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with his biggest success in 1993: the single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” topped the charts in 28 countries and won him a Grammy Award.
“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man,” it said.
“From his heart to your souls... don’t ever stop rocking!“
Tributes poured in, including from former US president Donald Trump, and stars such as Cher, who tweeting she was “Very Sorry For His Family, Friends, & Fans.”
“R.I.P Meatloaf. Love and prayers to all his family and close friends,” tweeted singer Boy George.
Adam Lambert, the lead singer for Queen since 2011, described Meat Loaf as “a gentle hearted powerhouse rockstar forever and ever.”
“You were so kind. Your music will always be iconic,” Lambert said on Twitter.
Born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947, Meat Loaf’s early years in Texas were rough.
“I’ve forgiven my father for trying to kill me with a butcher’s knife,” he once told The Telegraph.
But the bullying at school over his weight — the nickname Meat Loaf came early — was followed by the devastating loss of his mother to cancer while he was still a teenager.
Not long after, he was on his way to New York, looking for ways to channel the angst and histrionics into performance.
There, he teamed up with musician and playwright Jim Steinman, who provided the wild, theatrical backing music to accompany Meat Loaf’s bellowing voice.
Meat Loaf’s other hit singles include “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” (1977) and “I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us” (1981).
Meat Loaf had started off seeking acting work — winning parts in “Hair” and the original cast of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and its film adaptation.
Throughout his career, he also had several small parts in TV shows and films, including “Wayne’s World” (1992).
His role in the 1999 cult classic “Fight Club” highlighted his acting prowess in one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed films.
In 2016, he released a new album — his first since 2011 — and returned to a busy schedule after a two-year gap in touring, a string of health scares and speculation he would retire.
The singer had collapsed onstage at least three times since 2003, including once in Canada in 2016 after suffering from dehydration while singing “I’d Do Anything For Love.”
He was one of the few major US musicians outside of the country genre to support the Republican Party actively.
In the lead-up to the 2012 election that Barack Obama ended up winning, Meat Loaf campaigned for his challenger Mitt Romney.
Meat Loaf also became friends with Donald Trump after appearing on the latter’s reality television show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump described the singer as “smart, talented, open, and warm” in a statement Friday.


Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London
Updated 21 January 2022

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

DUBAI: The Syrian Arts and Culture Festival, a new multidisciplinary event showcasing the country’s creative talents, has opened in London.

The inaugural event, running until Feb. 4, brings together established and emerging artists, filmmakers, performers, and musicians to offer audiences alternative narratives and perspectives on Syria, its people, and its culture.

The SACF is a project by Zamakan, a non-profit platform that aims to create opportunities for artists, cultural workers, and creatives from West Asia and North Africa, and Marsm, a London-based events company.

Upcoming events feature a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo. (Syrian Arts and Culture Festival)

SACF is a transliteration of the Arabic word saqf, meaning roof or ceiling, a word which is also used to represent the limit of something. According to the website, the festival, “aspires to be a creative platform where limits can be pushed and boundaries are broken.”

For the opening night, the festival presented two solo performances by the acclaimed Syrian classical guitarist Ayman Jarjour and and Palestinian ney (a type of flute) virtuoso Faris Ishaq.

Upcoming events feature screenings of Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay’s movies, a traditional food workshop, and a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo.