Sudanese short film could make Oscar shortlist

Sudanese short film could make Oscar shortlist
The film has received such a positive reaction from audiences around the world. Supplied
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Updated 01 December 2021

Sudanese short film could make Oscar shortlist

Sudanese short film could make Oscar shortlist

LOS ANGELES: Amid the uncertainty about the future of arts and entertainment in Sudan after the military takeover, the Sudanese short film “Al-Sit” may make the short list for an Oscar this month.

Currently touring 160 international film festivals, “Al-Sit” has already won 23 awards, including three that qualify it for Oscar consideration. It has lifted both filmmaker Suzannah Mirghani and the fledgling renaissance of Sudanese cinema into the international spotlight.




“Al-Sit” has already won 23 awards, including three that qualify it for Oscar consideration. Supplied

The 20-minute short film was created by a crew of mostly Sudanese actors and filmmakers, during what Mirghani described as a “honeymoon period for artists” after the 2019 revolution. The film tells the story of Nafisa, played by Mihad Murtada, a 15-year-old girl being pulled between the marriage her parents have arranged for her, the plans for her life being laid out by her village matriarch grandmother — Al-Sit — and the desire to choose for herself.

“That idea has always stuck in my head. What does this girl really want in her life, and how does she deal with the situation?” Mirghani said.

The child of a Sudanese father and a Russian mother, Mirghani grew up in Sudan and watched many of her friends grapple with the same situation she would one day write about.

“Arranged marriages are very common in our part of the world, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing because the family just wants to do the best for the child. But sometimes too much love is suffocating, and the person who is supposed to be the most protected turns out to be the person with the least choice and the least voice.”




The short has lifted both filmmaker Suzannah Mirghani and the fledgling renaissance of Sudanese cinema into the international spotlight. Supplied

These questions stayed as a young love of movies grew into a passion for filmmaking. After studying media and communication at university, she moved to Qatar and took classes at the newly opened Doha Film Institute. She produced five short films before returning to Sudan for “Al-Sit” with partial funding provided by the institute.

“I was really pleasantly surprised about how beautifully you can make a film in Sudan even though there is no film industry,” said Mirghani, who pulled triple-duty as writer, director and producer.

Lead actor Murtada was chosen from a pool of five girls, the only five in the country who auditioned.

“We advertised the entire time. We only got five girls because it’s not really a profession that is encouraged in general,” Mirghani said. However, the first-time actor was perfect for the role.

“We got maybe over 100 young men to audition because acting, Hollywood, this is something that they aspire to and because young men in the Arab world are generally more free to choose their own path, which says a lot about the politics of this film as well.”




Lead actor Murtada was chosen from a pool of five girls, the only five in the country who auditioned. Supplied

The role of Nafisa’s businessman husband-to-be went to Mohammed Magdi Hassan, who, like Murtada and the rest of the young cast, had no prior film experience. The older actors, such as Rabeha Mohammed Mahmoud, who plays Nafisa’s grandmother, were also new to film acting, but all had careers as theatrical performers.

“Everyone just did it,” Mirghani said, recalling how her early concerns about working with such a new team were happily proven wrong.

“We were location scouting and when my production manager heard that we needed a cotton field he said, ‘Why don’t you use my cotton field?’ It was a perfect connection.”

Filming was done primarily in the village of Aezzazh, but when it came to filming Nafisa’s family’s home, which Mirghani intended to be a traditional Sudanese home made with dried clay and mud, she was surprised to find that all of the village houses were made with bricks.




“Al-Sit” is distributed by Mad Solutions in the Arab World and will continue screening at film festivals internationally. Supplied

“They were fancy,” she said. “A lot of the men in the village work in the Gulf. They bring back money, and they have fancy houses in the villages.”

The shoot was saved when a crew member once again offered their family’s home as a production location.

“We had to shoot the mud house in Khartoum, in the capital,” Mighani said, smiling about the irony of the situation. “You learn a lot about yourself and your own preconceived notions.”

Mirghani is very happy that the film she and her team worked hard to produce has received such a positive reaction from audiences around the world. She’s eagerly looking forward to seeing if “Al-Sit” can represent Sudanese cinema at the 2022 Oscars.

“This is the beauty of making a film in Sudan, where you don’t have a film industry, but you have really passionate enthusiastic people,” she says. “We are now in danger again of going back to military rule and stifling creative expression, so we hope and pray for the best.

“Al-Sit” is distributed by Mad Solutions in the Arab World and will continue screening at film festivals internationally.


Saint Laurent to reportedly present menswear show in Morocco

Saint Laurent to reportedly present menswear show in Morocco
Updated 24 May 2022

Saint Laurent to reportedly present menswear show in Morocco

Saint Laurent to reportedly present menswear show in Morocco

DUBAI: Parisian luxury label Saint Laurent is reportedly set to present its spring 2023 menswear collection in Marrakesh on July 15, according to multiple reports.

Morocco was a great source of inspiration to the late Yves Saint Laurent, and a museum dedicated to the famed fashion designer was even unveiled in Marrakesh in 2017.

The legendary couturier purchased a villa in the Moroccan city in the mid-1960s and two decades later purchased the spectacular Majorelle Gardens to save it from destruction. A mausoleum was built for the designer at the site after his death in 2008.

His years there inspired many of his collections and continue to influence the storied house that bears his name.

Although it will be the first physical show that Saint Laurent will stage in the North African country, it isn’t the first time that the brand has showcased one of its collections in Morocco.

In 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and when all brands shifted to the digital world, artistic, creative and image director of Saint Laurent Anthony Vaccarello unveiled a 10-minute-long video for the spring 2021 ready-to-wear line with models seen walking on dunes in the Moroccan desert in lieu of a runway.

The men’s show in Marrakech will coincide with an exhibition focused on Saint Laurent’s longstanding relationship with Morocco. Entitled “Love,” the exhibition will run from June 5-Oct. 31 at Palácio Duques de Cadaval in Évora, Portugal.

 


Saudi pavilion hosts Oscar-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman at Cannes Film Festival

Saudi pavilion hosts Oscar-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman at Cannes Film Festival
Updated 24 May 2022

Saudi pavilion hosts Oscar-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman at Cannes Film Festival

Saudi pavilion hosts Oscar-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman at Cannes Film Festival

DUBAI: Oscar-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman jetted to Cannes this week to attend the 75th edition of the city’s renowned film festival. 

Besides walking the red carpet and attending film premieres, the singer and songwriter was spotted at the Saudi pavilion where he was welcomed with Saudi coffee. 

“Taking pride in the Kingdom’s legacy of generosity, Saudi coffee is being prepared at the Cannes Film Festival,” the Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia shared on Twitter, adding images of Rahman at the Saudi pavilion. 

Saudi coffee is heavily associated with generational hospitality and generosity, providing a close connection to the country’s customs and traditions.

In January, the Ministry of Commerce announced that the commercial name of Arabic coffee will be officially changed to Saudi coffee in the Kingdom’s restaurants, cafes, stores and roasters. 

The announcement, by ministry spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Hussein, is in conjunction with a Culture Ministry initiative in naming 2022 as the “Year of Saudi Coffee” as a way to strengthen the identity and culture of Saudi Arabia.

The record producer was spotted on the red carpet during Cannes Film Festival  opening ceremony. He attended the premiere of French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius’s zombie comedy “Final Cut (Coupez!)”


Gigi Hadid begins filming second season of Netflix show ‘Next in Fashion’

Gigi Hadid begins filming second season of Netflix show ‘Next in Fashion’
Updated 24 May 2022

Gigi Hadid begins filming second season of Netflix show ‘Next in Fashion’

Gigi Hadid begins filming second season of Netflix show ‘Next in Fashion’

DUBAI: Part-Palestinian catwalk star Gigi Hadid has begun filming the second season of Netflix’s “Next in Fashion” alongside British TV personality Tan France, nearly five months after the model revealed her exciting new role to fans.

Ahead of the new season, which does not have a release date, Hadid took to Instagram to share her excitement over the forthcoming episodes and gush about her co-host, calling the British reality television star her “brother” and stating that shooting the new show together has been “a joy of my life.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid)

The 27-year-old posted a carousel of photos on Instagram, which included a snap of her posing with France and reading the “Next in Fashion” script.

“Can’t believe we’re almost a month into making a new season of @nextinfashion. Want to say, with only a couple weeks left, that shooting this show alongside my brother @tanfrance has been a joy of my life,” the US-Dutch-Palestinian model captioned the post. “I can’t wait for you all to meet these designers — an amazing, talented, sweet, cool, deserving group of humans and for them to share themselves and their creations with the world! We have so much in store for you,” she added.

The first season of the fashion competition show, which premiered in January 2020, featured 18 designers who faced weekly design challenges to win a $250,000 prize and a chance to have their collection sold on Net-a-Porter.

France also recently lauded his “Next in Fashion” co-host and dubbed her an “amazing mom.”

In a conversation with Us Weekly, the host said he has received many parenting tips from the supermodel, who welcomed a baby girl with former One Direction star Zayn Malik, in 2020.

He told the publication: “She’s one of my closest friends. I love her so much.

“It makes the show really, really fun,” added France. “It’s probably the best time I’ve ever had on a show.”

The 39-year-old continued: “She’s an amazing mom. I’ve gotten so many tips from her,” adding that he “of course” has met her daughter Khai.


‘A Perfect Pairing’: Netflix hitches its hopes to the romance wagon

‘A Perfect Pairing’: Netflix hitches its hopes to the romance wagon
Updated 24 May 2022

‘A Perfect Pairing’: Netflix hitches its hopes to the romance wagon

‘A Perfect Pairing’: Netflix hitches its hopes to the romance wagon

CHENNAI: Netflix is once again dabbling in the romance genre with Stuart MacDonald’s “A Perfect Pairing.” Whether it’s simply the season of love or a bid to counteract a series of blows — a landslide loss of subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, for example — this rom-com does not quite get the heart racing as Netflix execs may have hoped it would.

The classic love story has all the touchpoints of a Mills and Boon book, with its ruggedly dashing heroes and attractive damsels in distress, but besides some instances of beautiful cinematography there is nothing to make this film stand out.

To be fair, Lola Alvarez (played by a feisty Victoria Justice) has a mind of her own and is no forlorn Mills and Boon heroine, although she is in a state of distress. She will not tolerate nonsense, even from her boss at a cutthroat Los Angeles-based drinks importer. When her best friend at work steals a major client, Lola quits, deciding to open her own company. She decides to visit a famed beverage manufacturer in Queensland, Australia, where she tries to win over the owner, Hazel Vaughn (Samantha Cain), by working on her farm. There she bonds with the mysterious and handsome Max (Adam Demos), who has his secrets — for this wouldn’t be a true romance story without a little heartbreak.

This rom-com does not quite get the heart racing as Netflix execs may have hoped it would. Supplied

A corporate woman, the film does feature some light-hearted moments when Lola finds herself dealing with the grime of the farm. Some of the incidents are witty, like her bonding with a sheep, nicknamed Baarbra, others a bit juvenile. Her clumsy acts can be seen as irritating, but the gradual attraction between Max and Lola is breezy and Demo’s performance is enjoyable to watch.

Some visually exciting sequences add to their romance — for instance in the taproom, where the farm staff tap their legs and dance around to “Are You Going To Be My Girl.” Equally vibrant is the sheep-shearing scene against the backdrop of Ben Nott's cinematography, which captures the lush landscape and local wildlife — a baby kangaroo hops into the screen in a delightful distraction to the tension which begins to simmer as the plot winds to a climax.

It's a comfort watch for a weekday night in, with a predictable end and all the hallmarks of a made-for-TV rom-com, but sometimes that’s just the ticket.


Pop superstar Justin Bieber set to bring world tour to Dubai

The concert, which is part of his Justice World Tour, is just one stop on his tour of more than 30 countries. (File/AFP)
The concert, which is part of his Justice World Tour, is just one stop on his tour of more than 30 countries. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 May 2022

Pop superstar Justin Bieber set to bring world tour to Dubai

The concert, which is part of his Justice World Tour, is just one stop on his tour of more than 30 countries. (File/AFP)

DUBAI: Canadian pop superstar Justin Bieber is set to perform at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena on Oct. 8, 2022, it was announced on Tuesday.

The concert, which is part of his Justice World Tour, is just one stop on his tour of more than 30 countries which will run from May 2022-March 2023.

Thomas Ovesen, owner of T.O.P Entertainment and the outfit responsible for bringing the show to Dubai said: “having Justin back for what will be his third visit and fourth performance in the city is so exciting, both for his fans and for me personally. The UAE hasn’t seen shows of this size and scale since pre-pandemic and I can guarantee everyone is in for a real treat – the production is world class and there is no doubt Justin is at the very top of his game right now.”

Pre-sale will start at 10am on May 26 and general tickets will go on sale on May 27.

The upcoming dates start this month in Mexico, with a stop in Italy before continuing on to Scandinavia for shows in August.  Next up is South America, South Africa and the Middle East in September and October.  The tour will close out the year in Asia, Australia and New Zealand before moving to the UK and Europe in early 2023. 

These new shows come on the heels of his 52-date 2022 North American tour, which kicked off in San Diego on Feb. 18.