Review: Saudi film ‘Champions’ is a heartfelt movie about friendship, football, and learning difficulties
Review: Saudi film ‘Champions’ is a heartfelt movie about friendship, football, and learning difficulties/node/2037251/entertainment
Review: Saudi film ‘Champions’ is a heartfelt movie about friendship, football, and learning difficulties
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The movie starring Yassir Al Saggaf a Saudi Tv presenter and actor who is playing the role of Khalid in the movie alongside the Saudi Actress Fatima Al Banawi, who plays the role of Khaled’s fiancee. (Supplied)
RIYADH: The Saudi football film “Champions” delivers a beautiful message on humanity and people's behavior.
It follows the journey of Khaled, a temperamental and arrogant assistant coach of a successful professional Saudi football team.
His rage leads him to disciplinary court after a particularly frustrating match. He loses his high-profile career, suffers a major blow to his ego, and his community service turns out to be coaching an amateur team of players who have learning difficulties.
But he realizes how much he needs to learn from his new team when they respond to his poor attitude with good humor, friendliness, and innocence.
The movie stars Saudi TV presenter and actor Yassir Al-Saggaf, who plays Khaled, and Saudi actress Fatima Al-Banawi, who plays the role of Khaled’s fiancee.
• The movie stars Saudi TV presenter and actor Yassir Al-Saggaf, who plays Khaled, and Saudi actress Fatima Al-Banawi, who plays the role of Khaled’s fiancee.
• It was directed by Manuel Calvo and produced by the Oscar-winning Andres Vicente Gomez.
“The movie was filmed in Jeddah and we faced challenges because of the pandemic,” Al-Saggaf told Arab News. “We had two phases for filming it: One before the pandemic and one after. Everyone who saw the film wanted to jump in to help show the movie. I would like to thank the Film Commission and Ministry of Culture for showing the film at Dubai Expo 2020.”
Al-Saggaf said all the actors with disabilities in the movie were acting for the first time, adding that they did a “great job.” He hoped they would continue working in the entertainment industry.
The family-friendly movie is light and funny. There are plenty of laughs because of how the characters see life and the way they want to have fun and enjoy the moment.
It was directed by Manuel Calvo and produced by the Oscar-winning Andres Vicente Gomez.
Gomez said he did not want to use professional actors to portray people with special needs as it would contradict the film's purpose.
“Through their sense of humor, kindness, and respect, the boys are great actors, and the film and its main characters set an example for the rest of society,” he said.
The movie, which is scheduled for release on March 10, is a remake of the Spanish film “Campeones,” one of Spanish cinema's biggest breakthroughs in the last decade.
“Champions” has attracted a lot of attention because of its uplifting message, as well as its attempt to change people’s perception of those with special needs.
Review: ‘The Guardians of Galaxy Holiday Special’ brings festive cheer to MCU
Updated 28 November 2022
LONDON: Viewers over a certain age may find that the phrase “Holiday Special” sends a shiver down their spine, but fear not — James Gunn and the Marvel factory are here to cleanse your palette. Gunn, recently announced as the new head of the DC cinematic universe, still has one more Marvel movie on the horizon, but before “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3” hits cinemas in 2023, the director has reunited with the ragtag group of heroes for a seasonal one-shot on the Disney+ streaming platform — the latest in Marvel’s series of Special Presentations after October’s “Werewolf by Night.”
In an attempt to cheer up fellow Guardian Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Mantis and Drax (Pom Klementieff and Dave Bautista) set out to give their friend an Earth-style Christmas, complete with lights, decorations and gifts. Except that their idea for a gift is to journey to Earth and kidnap actor Kevin Bacon, star of Quill’s favorite childhood movie, “Footloose.” Cue a series of comic interactions between the superhero Guardians and Earth’s population as they chase down and abduct Bacon and whisk him into space.
Unlike the now infamous 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special,” this festive “Guardians” installment is as slick as the wider cinematic universe. For starters, it has excellent production values, appearances from all the Guardians (including Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Vin Diesel as Groot, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, and Maria Bakalova as new member Cosmo), and a story that, while light and throwaway, still fits into the wider MCU narrative. If anything, this is more of a scene-setting exercise for “Volume 3” than a seasonal cash-in. Gunn, and his ensemble cast, have clearly grown to love these characters as much as anyone, so there’s a feeling of playful reverence about this “Holiday Special” — not to mention a welcome sense that, while it’s silly and festive, this is as important to the Marvel timeline as any of the big-screen movies.
Concert calendar: This week’s major concerts at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar
Updated 28 November 2022
DUBAI: For fans making their way to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, here are this week’s major concerts set to take place alongside the football festivities.
Monday, Nov. 28: The ARAVIA festival will feature performances by Scooter, Vegie and Sokkary. The Arcadia Music Festival will kick off with Hernan Cattaneo, Miss Monique, Argy, Jonas Saalbach, Alfa Romero, Mark Knight, Tita Lau, Ferry Corsten, Nervo, ATB, Martin Jensen, Cedric Gervais, Burak Yeter and Joselito.
Tuesday, Nov. 29: Rae Sremmurd, Dabous and Laymoon will take to the turntables at the ARAVIA festival, while the Arcadia festival will host Gorgon City, Argy, Jonas Saalbach, Alfa Romero, Citizen Kain, Vidal Rodriguez, ATB, Nervo, Burak Yeter, Ferry Corsten, Cedric Gervais, Martin Jensen, Burak Yeter and Mark Knight. British DJ Pete Tong will meet his fans at Bud World Club, while Canadian singer Nora Fatehi will perform at the FIFA Fan Festival.
Wednesday, Nov. 30: Gordo, Dabous and Laymoon will perform at the ARAVIA festival as the Arcadia Music Festival hosts Sebastien Leger, Argy, Citizen Kain, Jonas Saalbach, Alfa Romero, Vidal Rodriguez, Nervo, Ferry Corsten, ATB, Cedric Gervais, Mark Knight, Burak Yeter, Martin Jensen, and Block & Crown. Spanish singer Omar Montes will meet his fans at the FIFA Fan Festival as Colombian singer Ryan Castro opens the Qetaifan Beach Festival on Qetaifan Island North in Lusail.
Thursday, Dec. 1: Sebastian Ingrosso, Against Celebrities and DJ Leen will take to the stage at ARAVIA, while Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike, Nervo, Ferry Corsten, Gorgon City, ATB, Cedric Gervais, Mark Knight, Burak Yeter and Block & Crown perform at Daydream Festival in the Doha Golf Club, Al-Egla. Brazilian singer Ludmilla meet her fans at Bud World Cup and US singer Trinidad Cardona’s gig will be at the FIFA Fan Festival.
Friday, Dec. 2: Against Celebrities and DJ Leen will perform again at ARAVIA along with US rapper Tyga. The Daydream Festival will feature performances by Armin Van Buuren, Sam Feldt, Ferry Corsten, ATB, Mark Knight and Burak Yeter. DJ Aseel will be at the FIFA Fan Festival.
Saturday, Dec. 3: ARAVIA will feature Benny Benassi, Sin Tek and Sheiq. Arcadia will host Sebastien Leger, Ae:ther, Armonica, Vidal Rodriguez, Joselito, ATB, Ferry Corsten, Cedric Gervais, Burak Yeter and Mark Knight. Lil Baby will perform at the Bud World Cup zone, while Gims will hit the stage at the FIFA Fan Festival.
French Tunisian actress Sonia Ben Ammar to star in ‘The Equalizer 3’
Updated 27 November 2022
DUBAI: French Tunisian actress Sonia Ben Ammar is set to star in “The Equalizer 3” alongside lead stars Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning.
The film’s plot is being kept under wraps, but it is the third in an action series centered on Washington’s vigilante character Robert McCall. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the first film in the series was released in 2014 and earned more than $194 million worldwide, spurring a 2018 sequel that grossed over $190 million worldwide.
On Saturday, Deadline reported that Ben Ammar was among six new stars set to join the ensemble cast, including Eugenio Mastrandrea (“From Scratch”), Remo Girone (“Ford v. Ferrari”), Daniele Perrone (“Baaria”), Andrea Scarduzio (“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”) and Andrea Dodero (“Blocco 181”). Italian actress Gaia Scodellaro will also star in the film, as previously announced.
Ben Ammar has joined the ever-growing list of rising Arab stars working their way up the ladder in Hollywood.
She said that “Scream” was a new experience for her because, unlike the film’s loyal fanbase, she does not like scary movies.
“Doing something that scares me and being a part of that was interesting,” she said, adding “But I think being part of the behind-the-scenes process of being in it really takes a lot of the scary elements out of it. When I saw the movie (at) the screening for the first time, I was jumping up from my seat.”
Although “Scream” marked Ben Ammar’s first high-profile Hollywood gig as an actress, it is not the Paris-born actress’s first foray into the film industry.
Ben Ammar, who is the daughter of Tunisian film director Tarek Ben Ammar and Polish-born actress Beata, previously starred in Guillaume Canet’s French-language film “Jappeloup,” as well as the stage musical “1789: Les Amants de la Bastille.”
Before following in the footsteps of her parents, the multi-hyphenate made headway in the fashion world as a model, fronting campaigns for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu and Chanel.
Mathew Knowles keen to explore Arab music at Riyadh’s XP Music Futures
Updated 27 November 2022
Shyama Krishna Kumar
DUBAI: Mathew Knowles, the architect of Destiny’s Child and his daughters Beyonce and Solange Knowles’ early solo careers, is more than ready to give his keynote speech at the second edition of Saudi Arabia's XP Music Futures music conference.
“I’m like a sponge ready to embrace and take in the local culture, food, the streets, art and the people. I want to listen to their music, I want to talk to the talent, I want to understand what moves the community and what impact music has on their lives and their economy,” said Knowles in an interview with Arab News.
This will be Knowles’ first visit to Saudi Arabia and he says he has been hard at work researching the country. “It seems like there’s a lot of growth and inspiration currently taking place which I’m really looking forward to experiencing. I want to be able to walk to different places – whether live events or restaurants – and understand the role that music plays within the Saudi community,” said Knowles.
“I’m also looking forward to the music conference to be able to meet and engage with policymakers and government representatives and understand the strategy for Saudi Arabia from a cultural and entertainment standpoint,” he added.
Titled “Reinvention & Relevance: Building Longevity in Your Career with Mathew Knowles,” Knowles keynote speech will feature tips for Saudi and regional talent on how to breathe life into their music and entertainment career.
“The music industry worldwide is a very tough one. It’s not easy to be an artist and stand out amongst a pool of talent, but with passion, artists are able to fuel their love for building a successful music career. It helps develop those essential traits needed to put in the hard work required for success and reflects in the work ethic and level of patience,” said Knowles when asking what musicians need to do in order to stand out.
“In Saudi Arabia, there’s a huge opportunity to tear down walls and build bridges to establish those foundations required for a successful music industry so talent can excel and shine on stages, which is what I’m most excited about being part of,” he added.
Knowles is also keen to understand the scope of Arab music when he visits Riyadh. “I’ve been researching and listening to all types of Arabic music but to me, I couldn’t really define what it meant. I hear a lot of traditional tunes, but is that the direction Arabic music is going in, or is that considered for an older audience? I’ve learnt that half of the population is of 25 years and younger so I’m eager to understand what appeals to them,” he said.
“I also wonder would (Arab) music be defined by the beats, or the sounds of the instruments, the lyrics or overall melody? For instance, African music has approached the marketplace with new sounds that have excited crowds worldwide: Afro beats or afro pop. From everything I’ve read and seen, I believe there’s huge potential to unlock those unique Arab sounds, if not done so already, which would help local artists connect with global audiences,” he added.
XP Music Futures is set to take place in Riyadh from Nov. 28-30.
Saudi icon Mohammed Abdu — ‘The Artist of the Arabs’
In our latest Arab Icons feature, we profile the Saudi singer, oud player and composer who remains one of Khaleeji music’s biggest draws
Updated 26 November 2022
DUBAI: With a career spanning 60 years, Saudi singer and oudist Mohammed Abdu, dubbed ‘The Artist of the Arabs,’ has been an inspiration to many — and not just for his music.
Abdu was born in Asir province, Saudi Arabia, on June 12, 1949. His father, a fisherman, died when Abdu was just three years old, leaving behind his wife and five other children.
Unable to provide for her children, Abdu’s mother surrendered her children to Ribat Abu-Zinadah — a local Yemenite hospital for orphaned families. She then petitioned King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to find her children places at an orphanage, which he did. Abdu spent the remainder of his childhood in an orphanage in Jeddah.
“This was really the actual struggle,” Abdu once said in an interview on Rotana’s “Ya Hala” show. “I remember every moment and every detail in my life. God gave me a memory that helps me remember things from when I was one. My struggles were of a child who wanted to be like the rest of the children in his neighborhood. They were all rich. I would see this and dream of reaching this level one day.”
This was Abdu’s motive to work hard and build a name for himself. His got his first job when he was only seven, as an assistant to a mailman. He also raised money by helping housewives with their shopping and selling fruit and vegetables on the street.
While he was interested in music as a kid, Abdu’s dream was to be involved with sailing or seamanship, like his father. He even joined a shipbuilding institute. But eventually, he abandoned the idea of becoming a sailor and turned to his true calling: music.
Abdu began his music career in the 1960s when Saudi presenter Abbas Faiq Ghazzawi invited him to sing on the radio show “Baba Abbas.” Two songs in particular — “Al-Rasayel” and “Ab’ad” — became extremely popular. Both remain part of his live sets today.
“Ab’ad” was a hit around the world, with Iranian and Indian translations both garnering airplay, and even European bands performing covers of the track.
With his strong voice and distinctive style of oud playing — reminiscent of the Syrian-Egyptian virtuoso Farid Al-Atrash, Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi, and fellow Saudi Talal Maddah — Abdu toured the world. It was at a concert in Tunisia in the 1980s that he first received the soubriquet “The Artist of the Arabs,” from then-Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba.
At the end of the Eighties, Abdu took an abrupt sabbatical from music after the death of his beloved mother. It would be eight years before he performed or released another track.
Aside from being an acclaimed performer, Abdu is also a talented composer in his own right. He wrote several of his own tracks, including “Al Remsh Al Taweel,” “Ya Shoog” and “Ya Sherouq Al Shams,” but has also written for other stars, including the Egyptian singer Carmen Soliman, who partnered with Abdu after winning the first season of “Arab Idol,” releasing the 2014 Khaleeji track “Akhbari.”
Soliman told Arab News that composer Abdul Latif Al-Sheikh was the driving force behind this perhaps unexpected partnership. “He wished for a collaboration like that to happen, and he worked a lot until he made it happen,” she said. “I would like to thank him for choosing me. I could not believe it at the time. I felt like I would have a song in my history that would never be forgotten. And everyone would know that this song was composed by Mohammed Abdu.
“He was my favorite singer to listen to,” she continued. “To me, Mohammed Abdu is a legend (whose like we will not see again). I love his voice. He has an amazing, strong voice. Through it, he can reach the hearts of the audience. I love his music.”
Soliman cited “Ma’ad Badri,” “Ala El-Bal” and “Shebeeh El-Reeh” as some of her favorite Abdu songs. “His performance in these songs is non-replicable,” she said.
Soliman also praised Abdu’s humility, which she said is not common among artists these days. “That, and his humor,” she said. “You feel like you are sitting with someone from your family. He is very down-to-earth and close to the heart.”
Soliman is not the only singer who hails Abdu as an icon. Saudi artist Hassan Eskandarani, who is also a researcher of Saudi songs, told Arab News: “Mohammed Abdu is an independent school. He sang to all categories.
“I can’t give my opinion on an artist who has (such a long) career,” he added. “Mohammed Abdu lives through three generations from the beginning of the Sixties. He played a pivotal role in expanding Khaleeji music outside of the Kingdom. I hope he keeps singing until he decides to stop.”
Eskandarani says Abdu is “a stage master,” who has had a major influence on his own live performances.
“Not everyone who sings a song on stage is a (real) singer,” he said. “Mohammed knows how to choose (songs) the fans like, so they engage with him.”
Abdu remains a vital and relevant musician. Only this month, he reportedly broke the record for the biggest acquisition of an artist’s back catalog (which includes an astonishing 122 albums) in the Middle East when Rotana announced on Nov. 8 that it had bought the rights to his works.
“Rotana signed the largest deal of its kind in the Middle East – the agreement to purchase the full artistic content of Arab artist Mohammed Abdu,” the label announced on Instagram.
Chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority Turki Al-Sheikh said at the event: “It is a courageous move from Mohammed Abdu to give up (these precious) works that he worked hard on for 60 years. It is similar to someone giving away one of his children.
“We at the General Entertainment Authority support the archiving of the artistic history of Saudi artists,” he added. “However, Mohamed Abdu remains ahead of the rest of the artists.”