Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ banned from screening in Lebanon and 13 other countries

Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ banned from screening in Lebanon and 13 other countries
Cast members Taika Waititi, Keke Palmer and Chris Evans pose for pictures, as they arrive for the UK premiere of ‘Lightyear’ in London on Monday. (Reuters)
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Updated 14 June 2022

Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ banned from screening in Lebanon and 13 other countries

Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ banned from screening in Lebanon and 13 other countries
  • Lebanon did not immediately offer any official justification for the decision
  • The UAE’s Media Regulatory Office said on Monday that the film “violates the country’s media content standards”

LONDON: Lebanon joined the UAE, Saudi Arabia and 11 other countries across the world on Tuesday to prohibit the new Pixar animated film “Lightyear” from screening in cinemas.
The animated film, scheduled for worldwide release on Thursday, features a scene involving a same-sex kiss between two of its characters.
While Lebanon did not immediately offer any official justification for the decision, the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office said on Monday that the film “violates the country’s media content standards.”
Indonesia, Egypt, and Malaysia are among the countries to prevent the “Toy Story” spin-off from commercial screening.
Lebanon does not have a consistent policy toward film and media censorship. Films such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” which depicted the life of Freddie Mercury, were allowed to screen across the country.
Meanwhile, Marvel’s “Eternals” was heavily edited, to cut out scenes of same-sex relationships.
Notably, “Eternals” was also banned from screening across cinemas in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar.
Films such as “West Side Story” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” were also banned in various countries across the region, including the UAE, for including trans and homosexual characters.
The UAE later removed the ban on “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” opting instead for a 21+ rating.


Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions

Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions
Updated 19 August 2022

Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions

Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions
  • Deadline to submit films is Nov. 30

DUBAI: The Aswan International Women Film Festival is welcoming submissions for its seventh edition, which will take place in March 2023.

The deadline to enter submissions is Nov. 30.

Each entry must be either written or directed by a woman. Although the stories can be based on any theme, AIWFF encourages films tackle subjects around womanhood and female empowerment.

Participating films can be entered in one of two categories: Long or feature films (more than 60 minutes) and short films (less than 60 minutes). The films can be animated, documentaries or fictional.

AIWFF aims to recognize female achievement in filmmaking, as well as guide and teach young women through workshops, seminars and screenings.

This year, for its sixth edition, AIWFF screened 34 short films and feature films. It also gave awards to Egyptian actress Sawsan Badr, director Inaam Mohamed Ali, award-winning French actress and director Marilyne Canto, and Somali political strategist Hibaaq Osman.


Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine

Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine
Updated 19 August 2022

Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine

Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine
  • Referencing Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, the film underlines the importance of socially and politically engaged art

LONDON: A documentary film co-produced by Palestinian model Anwar Hadid will be shown next month at San Carlo auditorium in Albenga, Italy.

Other producers on the project are Kweku Mandela, grandson of former South African president Nelson, and Pink Floyd guitarist Roger Waters.

The film, “Walled Off,” is written and directed by Vin Arfuso, an American filmmaker of Palestinian and Italian descent.

Referencing the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, owned and designed by British artists Banksy, the film underlines the importance of socially and politically engaged art.

The film follows Hadid, brother of models Bella and Gigi, as he explores Banksy’s hotel’s site-specific installations and storied halls with its head manager, Wissam Salsa.

Later scenes feature five decades of archival footage, with the goal of combating the narrative of Palestinian struggle in Western media while also anchoring Arafat as a symbol of national identity.

Last week, Arfuso shared a teaser on Instagram.

“Artists working in this realm strive to provide a counterpoint to the prevailing images of power and also to the stereotypes that are fed to us by the media,” the teaser said.

The iconic British street artist opened the Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem in 2017. Nestled against Israel’s separation barrier, which encloses occupied Palestine and annexes part of its land, Banksy has claimed it has the “worst view of any hotel in the world.”

The pre-release screening of Walled Off will take place on Sept. 8, as part of European artist-activist Cake$’s debut solo exhibition “A Child Is Born In Bethlehem.”

The exhibition has been curated by British-Palestinian art dealer, curator, activist and journalist Zayna Al-Saleh, and Italian art collector and curator Lorenzo Sibilla.

 


Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest

Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest
Updated 19 August 2022

Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest

Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest
  • Russia's watchdog Roskomnadzor fined the companies for failing to remove content that it had flagged as illegal

MOSCOW: Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said on Friday that it was taking punitive measures against a string of foreign IT companies, including TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord and Pinterest.
In a statement, Roskomnadzor said that the measures were in response to the companies’ failure to remove content that it had flagged as illegal, and would remain in place until they complied. It did not specify what measures would be taken.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to fine sites — including Google, that violate harsh new laws criminalizing the spreading of “false information” about the Russian army.
On Tuesday, Russian courts fined US-based live streaming service Twitch 2 million roubles ($33,000) and messenger service Telegram 11 million roubles ($179,000) for violating military censorship laws.


Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services

Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services
Updated 19 August 2022

Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services

Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services
  • As the ‘Watch, cancel, go’ trend gains popularity, streaming platforms need to be smarter to retain customers

LONDON: A study released in July by the US-based subscriber-measurement firm Antenna revealed that streaming video services are finding it increasingly difficult to retain their customer base as users are switching between platforms in order to save money, changing subscriptions depending on which service hosts the shows or movies they want to watch at the time.

According to Antenna’s study, 19 percent of subscribers to premium services including Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV+, HBO Max and Disney+, canceled three or more subscriptions in the two years up to June 2022, up from 6 percent in the previous two years.

The study also found that streaming services need to allocate huge amounts of resources and capital to produce new shows to keep subscribers satisfied.

“You constantly need new content,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst for “independent research boutique” MoffettNathanson. “Streaming services not only have to build vast libraries of old shows and movies, they also need a couple of nice big theatrical movies every quarter to make (consumers) feel like it’s really valuable.”

When a highly anticipated show or movie is released, streaming-video providers see an increase in subscribers. However, many of these new consumers cancel their subscriptions after a short period of time.

This “Watch, cancel and go” trend poses a problem even for the largest companies in the sector, with experts claiming that attracting new customers is five times more expensive than retaining loyal subscribers.

“With new streaming services popping up every day and subscriber churn increasing, you must invest in subscriber retention and loyalty programs to survive and thrive,” said Alp Pekkocak, global head of industry solutions & strategy, media & entertainment at Salesforce. “It costs five times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. Yet most companies spend the majority of their marketing budget trying to acquire new customers.

“The old cliché ‘Content is king’ still holds true. No matter how good a personalized recommendation engine or user experience is, consumers won’t stick around if they don’t find content that speaks to them,” he added.

Despite the increasing customer-defection rate, the appetite for streaming platforms remains high. Over the next few years, the number of subscribers is projected to grow with global revenue from TV series and movies expected to reach $224 billion in 2027, up from $135 billion in 2021, a report by Digital TV Research revealed.

However, as market competition intensifies with more players entering an already-crowded sector, streaming services will be faced not only with the challenge of winning new subscribers’ hearts but will have to be smarter about how they retain and offer value to their existing customers.


Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal

Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal
Updated 19 August 2022

Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal

Elon Musk targets ad tech firms in Twitter suit over takeover deal

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who is attempting to walk away from his deal to acquire Twitter Inc. , is seeking documents from advertising technology firms as part of his quest to gain more information on bot and spam accounts on Twitter, according to filings in a Delaware court on Thursday.
Twitter has sued the Tesla chief executive, who has accused Twitter of hiding information about how it calculates the percentage of bots on the service, for attempting to walk away from the $44 billion agreement. A trial is scheduled for Oct. 17.

Musk’s lawyers have subpoenaed both Integral Ad Science (IAS) and DoubleVerify for any documents or communications on their involvement in reviewing accounts or participation in any audit of Twitter’s user base.
IAS and DoubleVerify, which are both based in New York, use technology to independently verify that digital ads are viewed by real people. Advertisers use the services to ensure the ads they pay for are seen by potential customers and not automated bots.


Twitter, IAS and DoubleVerify did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In response to a tweet by a user who questioned how Twitter audits its service and also linked to a Reuters story on Musk targeting the ad firms, Musk tweeted: “Those are the questions that Twitter is doing everything possible to avoid answering …“
In a countersuit earlier this month, Musk claimed that Twitter’s monetizable daily active users are 65 million lower than what the company has touted. Twitter has said it stands by its disclosures.
The metric measures users who log onto Twitter through the website or apps that are able to serve ads or used paid products like subscriptions, according to Twitter filings.