Iraqi actress Kurdwin Ayub wins big at Berlin Film Festival

Iraqi actress Kurdwin Ayub wins big at Berlin Film Festival
“Sonne” had its world premiere on Feb. 12 at the festival. (AFP)
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Updated 17 February 2022

Iraqi actress Kurdwin Ayub wins big at Berlin Film Festival

Iraqi actress Kurdwin Ayub wins big at Berlin Film Festival

DUBAI: Iraqi actress Kurdwin Ayub, a former refugee, won the Best First Feature award at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival on Wednesday for her drama “Sonne.”

Ayub’s full-length feature, which she wrote and directed, centers around a Kurdish, Vienna-born teen, Yesmin, who makes a dance video with her non-Muslim friends.

The clip of the three girls goes viral overnight. Yesmin is then faced with cultural and religious challenges. 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kurdwin Ayub (@kurdwinayub)

“Sonne” had its world premiere on Feb. 12 at the festival.

Ayub was born in Iraq in 1990. She left her country with her family during the First Gulf War. The filmmaker, who is now an Austrian citizen, grew up on the outskirts of Vienna in a refugee camp.

Her shorts have been shown and awarded at numerous international film festivals. In 2013, she was awarded the Vienna Independent Short Newcomer Prize, while in 2011 and 2012, she received the Viennale Mehrwert Short Film Prize.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kurdwin Ayub (@kurdwinayub)

In 2012, she presented a series of her short films at the Viennale. Her feature documentary “Paradise! Paradise!,” which she directed and filmed, won multiple awards including Best Camera at the Diagonale — Festival of Austrian Film — and the New Waves Non Fiction Award at the Sevilla Festival de Cine Europeo.

This year’s Berlinale was held in-person for the first time in two years but was a shorter competition than usual, with strict regulations for audiences just as COVID-19 infections were peaking in Germany.

The festival awarded its Golden Bear top prize to Spanish director Carla Simon’s semi-autobiographical drama “Alcarras,” about a family of peach farmers fighting for their future.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kurdwin Ayub (@kurdwinayub)

There were 18 films from 15 countries vying for the Golden Bear, with the jury led by Indian-born American director M. Night Shyamalan.

The Berlinale is now the third major European film festival in a row to award its top prize to a woman director, following Cannes and Venice last year.

German-Turkish comedian Meltem Kaptan, 41, won the festival’s second ever gender-neutral acting prize for her performance in “Rabiye Kurnaz vs George W. Bush.”


Lebanon’s Baalbeck International Festival to return in live format for the first time in 3 years

Lebanon’s Baalbeck International Festival to return in live format for the first time in 3 years
Updated 07 July 2022

Lebanon’s Baalbeck International Festival to return in live format for the first time in 3 years

Lebanon’s Baalbeck International Festival to return in live format for the first time in 3 years

DUBAI: One of the oldest cultural events in the Middle East, the Baalbeck International Festival, will on Friday open with live performances for the first time in three years.

Taking place at the world-famous Roman archaeological site in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley until July 17, events will be staged between the Temple of Bacchus and Baalbeck Acropolis.

The festival program will feature local and international classical and modern performances including a night of music with Lubnan and Soumaya Baalbaki, Lebanese indie band Adonis, and appearances by Spanish guitarist Jose Quevedo Bolita, and song and dance duo Simon Ghraichy and Rana Gorgani.

A global cultural highlight for more than six decades, the event was held virtually in 2020 and 2021 because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions. This year’s lineup previews have so far attracted more than 17 million views on social media.

The festival is expected to bring in a summer influx of tourists and visitors to help boost the country’s flagging economy.


Arab models take over Chanel runway in Paris

Arab models take over Chanel runway in Paris
Updated 07 July 2022

Arab models take over Chanel runway in Paris

Arab models take over Chanel runway in Paris

DUBAI: Arab models are making a mark on runways at Paris Haute Couture Week.

French Algerian rising talent Loli Bahia, Italian Moroccan catwalk star Malika El-Maslouhi, and British Moroccan model Nora Attal walked the runway for Chanel’s show this week.

The creative director, Virginie Viard, opted for a low-key rendition of haute couture for the French fashion house’s fall-winter runway show on Tuesday, sending out a mix of long, full-skirted dresses and tweed ensembles with slightly relaxed fits.

The label took to a horse arena on the outskirts of Paris, building a set that played with optical effects, with geometric patterns running at a slant while large silver globes hung from the ceiling.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @lolibahiaa

Wavy-haired Bahia opened the show in an office-ready set lime-green skirt and jacket kicking off the fashion lineup.

It was not the first time the 19-year-old model had worked with Chanel. In May, she opened Chanel’s Grand Prix-inspired resort 2023 show in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

In June, Bahia landed her first-ever campaign for the storied luxury maison. She was featured in Chanel’s Metiers d’Art spring 2022 campaign.

During the haute couture show, Bahia’s fellow Arab model El-Maslouhi walked down the catwalk in a black multi-layered ensemble that was embroidered at the chest area with a subtly ruffled skirt.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MALIKA (@malika.elmaslouhi)

El-Maslouhi’s friend, Attal, wore a pink and white embellished pencil dress on the runway.

Low heels and floppy hats added to the casual flavor of the lineup, shimmery embellishments kept to a minimum.

Closing the show, even the traditional bride in an all-white wedding dress looked relaxed, her hands thrust in front pockets. A simple white bow was placed on her head, with the tails of the ribbon left streaming down behind.

Another Arab model making headlines at the fashion week was Amira Al-Zuhair from Saudi Arabia.

This week, she walked the runway for Rome-based brand Giambattista Valli, Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani, and Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika.

One of the most iconic looks for Arab models this week was Bella Hadid’s outfit for the Balenciaga show. The US Dutch Palestinian supermodel wore a green minidress with a train of structured floor-length fabric.

She walked in the star-studded Balenciaga show along with A-list celebrities including Kim Kardashian, British singer Dua Lipa, English model Naomi Campbell, and American Australian actress Nicole Kidman. 


Lebanese designer Elie Saab dazzles with menswear designs in Paris

Lebanese designer Elie Saab dazzles with menswear designs in Paris
Updated 07 July 2022

Lebanese designer Elie Saab dazzles with menswear designs in Paris

Lebanese designer Elie Saab dazzles with menswear designs in Paris
  • Runway features black creations with colored feathers on velvet
  • Zuhair Murad unveils his Fall-Winter 2023 designs titled ‘Les Arts Divinatoires’

DUBAI: Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab blew away attendees at the Paris Haute Couture Week on Wednesday as he debuted an array of dazzling menswear pieces among his signature lineup of red carpet-ready dresses for women.

“People who come to us for this type of style, they want to be spectacular — it’s the same for men and women,” Saab said in an interview with Reuters after the show. “We have a lot of demand from clients, but this is the first time we’ve shown it on the runway.”

Featuring mostly black creations, multi-colored feathers adorned velvet fabrics in the Elie Saab show. (AFP)

The Beirut couturier strutted out eight men’s looks on the heels of the wide-skirted dress that opened the collection, entitled “The Beginning of Twilight.” Featuring mostly black creations, multi-colored feathers adorned velvet fabrics, creating playful-yet-sleek looks. Dramatic coats and capes in black and gold were a highlight, unfortunately drowning out the fabulous women’s collection.

For women, the Autumn-Winter collection turned more delicate and dreamy. Staying within the twilight theme, there were sheer, fitted dresses dripping with lace and glittering beadwork, while long, floor-sweeping ballgowns had puffs of ostrich feathers augmenting the shoulders. Embellishments ran down to the fingertips, applied to sheer, skin-colored gloves.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

Spotted at the haute couture show was American model and entrepreneur Olivia Palermo in a lime green Elie Saab creation, featuring an embellished jacket and lace top, paired with grey tweed pants and orange pumps.

Also at the show was actress Kate Beckinsale, who showed up in a striking purple mini dress. The star was in London earlier this week where she was named Best Actress for her performance in “Jolt” at the National Film Awards. Also in attendance were Sabrina Elba, Law Roach and Jessica Azar.

Presenting at the Paris Haute Couture Week alongside Saab was fellow Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad. His Fall-Winter 2023 show was titled “Les Arts Divinatoires.” Vivid colors and bold accents were the highlight of the show, attended by fashion bloggers and influencers including Veronica Ferraro, Mary Leest, Maja Malnar and Steph Adams.

American actress Kelly Rutherford and “The Bachelor” star Tayshia Adams were also spotted at the show.


Highlights from the UAE’s ‘Made in Tashkeel’ summer art exhibition

Highlights from the UAE’s ‘Made in Tashkeel’ summer art exhibition
Updated 07 July 2022

Highlights from the UAE’s ‘Made in Tashkeel’ summer art exhibition

Highlights from the UAE’s ‘Made in Tashkeel’ summer art exhibition
  • The UAE art facility’s annual summer exhibition returns with works by 42 artists from 22 countries

Hadil Moufti

‘Bactrian Princess Small Studies’

The Dubai-based Saudi visual artist contributes this five-panel mixed-media work (a blend of photo collage, pencil, charcoal and silver leaf) to Tashkeel’s 12th annual ‘Made in Tashkeel’ exhibition, which runs until August 31.

Moufti’s work depicts a small figurine from the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection (on loan from the Louvre in Paris) — a statue from Bactria in Central Asia believed to date back around 4,000 years.

“This series was inspired by a talk from art historian Rose Balston about art in the UAE,” Moufti explains in her artist’s statement. “Listening to her explain how and why the Louvre Abu Dhabi came to be, I realized that the French-Emirati collaboration went beyond two countries; its claim as a universal museum was in fact justified. This figurine had travelled from Bactria … and was now sitting under Jean Nouvel’s dome.

“I chose to work on the image of the princess because I like to think of her detachable body parts made from different stones — a symbol of universality, cultural diversity and changeability,” she continues. “Repetition is a meditative process. The photographic image of the figurine, or heroine, is manipulated digitally and physically, printed numerous times, cut out, dissected, then placed in new settings, allowing for variations of interpretation while addressing the subject of identity.”

Badr Abbas

‘Slam Dunk’

The self-taught Emirati artist’s work is often rooted in Eighties nostalgia, portraying various aspects of Emirati culture — both native and imported — in his distinctive cubist paintings. This new work is part of a sports-focused series that, according to Tashkeel’s catalogue, “examines cultural influences from across the world that have been absorbed into Middle Eastern trends, habits and style. Growing up in the 1980s with pop culture (sports, anime series, fast food, et cetera), Badr uses his childhood influences and displays his vision of how they became part of everyday Emirati life.” Basketball was then — and remains — a major influence on Khaleeji culture, and “Slam Dunk” mixes sneakers, caps and jerseys with Emirati signifiers.

Areen Hassan

‘Granada’

Hassan uses “aesthetic, harmonious and abstract shapes” to create silkscreen and digital prints. The Palestinian artist and designer says these gowns were “designed with Islamic motifs, orientation and patterns in a composition that enables one to observe the spirituality of Islamic art as an embodied universe of symbolic meaning.”

The abstract shapes on the dresses come from prayer rugs that Hassan had previously created. “The composition symbolizes spiritual life and communication without a physical space,” she explains in her statement.

Ibraheem Khamayseh

‘Hob’

Khamayseh is the son of a renowned Palestinian calligrapher and is himself a talented exponent of this much-treasured artform — even “reinterpreting” the Naskh font into his own eponymous font. “Hob,” a piece of acrylic mirror that Khamayseh laser cut, is, he explains, “part of my daily Instagram experiment. I tried to explore the connections between the meaning and the calligraphy form.”

Morvarid Mohammad

‘Sunny’

At just 14 years old, Mohammad is the youngest artist ever to have their work included in “Made in Tashkeel.” Mohammad began by working with traditional mediums including oils and watercolor — and has an oil painting, “Flowers in Nowrooz,” included in the show as well — but has recently started to create digital art such as “Sunny,” which she drew on her phone using Ibis Paint X.

Shahd Sumairi

‘Palestinian Fragrance’

The Palestinian-Jordanian designer contributes these two works — acrylic paint on a pottery bowl and on wood — inspired by Ghassan Kanafani’s poem “The Land of Sad Oranges” and “the scent of items that remind us of home: Hummus, maqelooba, kunafa and oranges.” The exhibition brochure states: “The work takes on a new meaning of reclamation and resistance.”

Shareefa Al-Hashmi

‘Fly Me to My World’

The freelance photographer has two images featured in the show taken at Dubai’s Ras Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, home to numerous flamingos. “I found it difficult to catch the flamingo flying as it’s a sudden action, and I had to wait for the right moment and put the right setting before capturing the image with my camera,” she says. “I felt that it was flying to the sky and forgetting every single responsibility it holds. Flying gave it a feeling of limitless freedom.”

Yousra Wahba

‘Frozen Blue’

The Egyptian artist’s work is heavily inspired by nature and “fleeting moments of streaming energy.” This image is part of a new series she is working on called “Splash,” which — Wahba explains in her artist’s statement — “captures the unexpected, splendid energy and sculptural quality of the splashing liquid.” Through this, she hopes to “push the limits of the materials in a delicate way in order to develop an organic form that evokes movement.”


Review: ‘The Terminal List’: Chris Pratt’s war show lacks a hero

Review: ‘The Terminal List’: Chris Pratt’s war show lacks a hero
Updated 07 July 2022

Review: ‘The Terminal List’: Chris Pratt’s war show lacks a hero

Review: ‘The Terminal List’: Chris Pratt’s war show lacks a hero
  • This bland, dragged-out military series leaves even Chris Pratt looking apathetic

LONDON: One of the best things about the streaming landscape is the possibilities it offers to take stories that would feel rushed in a couple of hours and fully flesh them out in a way a movie never could — exploring backstories and character arcs with more detail, multiple perspectives, big twists and surprising reveals.

Sadly, it can also mean a story that would have been hard pushed to fill two hours can be stretched so thin as to lose all sense of momentum, purpose and coherence. Amazon’s new military thriller — “The Terminal List,” based on Jack Carr’s series of novels — would have made for a so-so movie (maybe), but instead we’re treated to a beleaguered Chris Pratt struggling to imbue Navy SEAL James Reece with enough depth to fill eight one-hour episodes. He never comes close.

Reece is the sole survivor of a botched covert mission, which leaves the rest of his squad dead. Shellshocked and reeling with guilt, he returns home to the USA, only to find himself the primary suspect in a series of shadowy events which aim to (literally) put him in the ground. Lit up with a burning desire for revenge, he puts his training to work, creating the titular list of those he holds accountable, and systematically crossing them off.

It might have worked better with a weekly release schedule — something akin to the ‘villain of the week’ format of old TV serials — but instead we get the whole, torturous show in one sitting. Where the character of Reese could have been a subtle examination of a traumatized special ops soldier, instead he descends into little more than a deranged psychopath.

Chris Pratt is unable to find any nuance in a character seemingly devoid of humanity. (Supplied)

While his motives may be ostensibly honorable, his means and methods are brutal and gratuitous. It’s hard to root for someone with no apparent redeeming qualities, no matter how much they’ve suffered. Or to get excited by clunky, exposition-heavy dialog that sounds like it was written in a “Call of Duty” chatroom.

Pratt looks as confused as the rest of us, unable to find any nuance in a character seemingly devoid of humanity. In any other show, Reece would be the bad guy — and with good reason.