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.


Saudi Arabia's NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood

Saudi Arabia's NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood
Updated 11 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood

Saudi Arabia's NEOM advert among nominees for Art Directors Guild Awards in Hollywood

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s “NEOM: ‘Made to Change’” advert is nominated for the 26th Art Directors Guild Awards, organizers announced on Monday. 

The live in-person event, scheduled to be held on March 5 in Los Angeles, honors production design in theatrical motion pictures, music videos, animated feature films, television shows and commercials.

The 90-second video shows how the $500 billion smart city in the Tabuk Province of northwestern Saudi Arabia will accelerate the human drive for progress through technology, energy, sustainability, mobility and more. 

The commercial’s production designer is François Audouy.

Among the nominees for the commercials category is “Gucci: ‘Aria,’” “Apple Music: ‘Billie Eilish — Happier Than Ever,’” “Apple: Introducing iPhone 13 Pro” and more. 

“Dune,” the science-fiction epic shot in Abu Dhabi, earned recognition in the fantasy feature film category, alongside “Cruella,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “The Green Knight.”


Half-Algerian Loli Bahia takes PFW by storm

Half-Algerian Loli Bahia takes PFW by storm
Updated 42 min 7 sec ago

Half-Algerian Loli Bahia takes PFW by storm

Half-Algerian Loli Bahia takes PFW by storm

DUBAI: Loli Bahia is the breakout model to watch out for this fashion month. The French-Algerian rising star is having a stellar Paris Fashion Week and has already turned heads on the runways of Alaia, Paco Rabanne and Schiaparelli.  

The Paris-based model’s season kicked off at Alaia, where she helped designer Pieter Mulier showcase his second collection as creative director for the fashion house, which he now helms following Tunisian couturier Azzedine Alaia’s death in 2018.

 The 19-year-old model walked for Alaia during Paris Fashion Week. Getty Images

Bahia took to the runway wearing a black oversized blazer dress featuring a white dramatic skirt derived from the late Tunisian couturier’s Spanish skirts from 1982 and 1988. The look was paired with black thigh-high boots.

She wasn’t the only model of Arab descent to strut down the label’s runway, shown off-schedule in Paris. The part-Algerian beauty walked alongside Moroccan-British Nora Attal.

She went on to join the likes of Louise Robert, Akon Changkou and Giselle Norman at Paco Rabanne’s Fall 2022 runway presentation during Paris Fashion Week.

Bahia strutted down the catwalk wearing a cropped wool turtleneck sweater paired with a matching wool and blue grain de poudre slit skirt that was studded with domed silver buttons.

Loli Bahia at the Schiaparelli Spring 2022 haute couture show. Getty Images

She later hit Schiaparelli’s surrealist show wearing a black silk crepe mini dress with black frothy curls sprouting from the shoulders that bounced as she moved down the runway of the Petit Palais.

At just 19, Bahia is quickly shaping up to be one of the most in-demand models in the industry, becoming a runway fixture in just a couple of months after a breakthrough Spring 2022 fashion month, where she walked in 65 shows.

The rising star strutted down the catwalks of a host of prestigious labels, including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Givenchy, Lanvin and Valentino, to name but a few.

Bahia, who is signed to Women Management Paris, made her runway debut in 2020 at Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2021 show. She would go on to star in the Parisian luxury house’s advertising campaign for Fall 2021.

She has also featured in campaigns for Saint Laurent, Courreges and Max Mara in addition to starring on the cover of Vogue Italia.


Beauty buzz: Skincare trends to look out for in Saudi Arabia in 2022

Beauty buzz: Skincare trends to look out for in Saudi Arabia in 2022
Updated 16 min 20 sec ago

Beauty buzz: Skincare trends to look out for in Saudi Arabia in 2022

Beauty buzz: Skincare trends to look out for in Saudi Arabia in 2022

DUBAI: Just like fashion and beauty, skincare also has its yearly trends. 

To learn more about the forecast for 2022, Arab News sat down with Ryan Saddik, general manager for the Middle East and North Africa region at the Swedish beauty company Foreo. 

The specialist said that the first trend that consumers are going for this year is clean beauty.

Ryan Saddik is the general manager for the Middle East and North Africa region at the Swedish beauty company Foreo. (Supplied)

“Consumers are very aware of what they are putting on their skin and are looking for products with less chemicals and more clean ingredients,” he said. 

He also believes that beauty lovers are stepping away from the multi-step skincare practices and are opting for “personalized routines,” adding that consumers are starting to become more conscious of the labels they opt for and the ingredients in their skincare products.

Over the past few years, beauty-focused technology has been garnering the attention of beauty gurus, including US-Iraqi entrepreneur and blogger Huda Kattan and part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik. The social media stars have previously shared snaps of themselves using light therapy treatments that are said to make the skin look smoother and fuller, for example. 

“Consumers are looking into smarter tech-beauty gadgets that will enable them to keep up with their skincare treatments, all in the comfort of their own homes,” said Saddik. “Technology-infused skincare, LED lights and micro currents are no longer as niche as they used to be — and Saudi Arabia sees more people dabbling in beauty tech.”

Foreo recently launched a new beauty tool called BEAR — a microcurrent facelift device that is available in the Kingdom. 

According to Saddik, the device is “the world’s first FDA-cleared medical microcurrent tool with an anti-shock system, which makes it the safest microcurrent device available.

“With Saudi Arabia being one of the key markets for us, it’s important to be available and on-hand to customers at all times,” Saddik said. “A facial workout with the much-loved microcurrent technology is one of the things in beauty that is for sure getting more and more attention.”


US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 

US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 
Updated 25 January 2022

US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 

US actor Giancarlo Esposito to attend UAE Comic Con 

DUBAI: US actor, director and producer Giancarlo Esposito is set to attend the 10th edition of Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) in Abu Dhabi.

The festival, which is dedicated toward films, comic books and video games, will run from March 3-5 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Esposito is famous for his roles in AMC’s award-winning TV show “Breaking Bad” and its prequel “Better Call Saul.” 

US actor Michael Rooker will attend the event. (AFP)

He is also known for playing Moff Gideon in the Disney+ Star Wars’ spinoff “The Mandalorian,” as well as for his role of Jorge in the blockbuster action franchise “The Maze Runner.”

The filmmaker will be part of a star-studded guest list that includes US stars Michael Rooker and Jon Bernthal, US voice actor Charles Martinet and “Game of Thrones” actress Nathalie Emmanuel. 

Now in its 10th year, the event will feature workshops, a theater experience, an Artists’ Alley and the ever popular cosplay competition.


Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival

Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival
Updated 24 January 2022

Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival

Lebanese short film ‘Warsha’ premieres at Sundance Festival

DUBAI:  “Warsha,” a short film written and directed by Lebanese filmmaker Dania Bdeir, had its global premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

The 15-minute-long film, which tells the story of a Syrian crane operator in Beirut named Mohamed (played by Lebanese singer Khamsa), is part of the annual festival’s online program until Jan. 30.

The film will be screened physically at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France, which runs from Jan. 28 to Feb. 5, before it is set to make its Middle Eastern premiere later this year.

“Warsha” was also selected for the 2022 International Film Festival of Rotterdam.