Actress Sofia Carson shows off Zuhair Murad look in New York

Actress Sofia Carson shows off Zuhair Murad look in New York
Sofia Carson showed off an ensemble by Zuhair Murad in New York. (Getty Images)
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Updated 26 September 2022

Actress Sofia Carson shows off Zuhair Murad look in New York

Sofia Carson showed off an ensemble by Zuhair Murad in New York. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US singer and actress Sofia Carson was spotted in New York wearing an ensemble by Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad this week.

Carson attended the Global Citizen Festival in a coordinating look from Murad’s resort 2023 collection. The outfit featured an embellished crop top and mini skirt set with matching thigh-high leather boots.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Carson (@sofiacarson)

The actress was dressed by celebrity stylist Nicolas Bru.

Metallica and Mariah Carey led an A-list of musicians at the event on Saturday, and President Joe Biden made a surprise video appearance, as the Global Citizen Festival sought to mobilize action against poverty and climate change.

Marking its 10th year, the six-hour festival brought thousands to New York’s Central Park and featured a sister show in Ghana's capital Accra, where performers included American R&B great Usher and British grime icon Stormzy, AFP reported.

Global Citizen awards tickets to fans in exchange for their commitment to take action to eradicate extreme poverty — such as contacting elected representatives to encourage foreign aid — and coincides with the annual UN General Assembly in hopes of raising pressure on world leaders.

Other performers included Maneskin, the new-generation Italian glam rockers who put on an energetic set, Spanish pop star Rosalia, and the Jonas Brothers, with Nick Jonas' wife, Indian screen star Priyanka Chopra, serving as master of ceremonies.

It is not the first time Carson has attended a high profile event wearing an ensemble from the Middle East.  

In July, she hit the red carpet at the premiere of Netflix movie “Purple Hearts” in a deep purple gown by Lebanese couturier Elie Saab.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Carson (@sofiacarson)

The actress, who stars in the film, attended the premiere at The Bay Theater in Pacific Palisades, California, wearing a gown from Saab’s Fall 2022 collection.

The dress boasted a tightly pleated purple skirt, along with a floral-embellished bodice with a statement high collar in black.

The 68-look ready-to-wear collection from which the gown hails was unveiled in Paris in March and was “about strong women, strong characters, a little rock ‘n’ roll,” the designer told Vogue US at the time.

It’s only fitting then that the dress was shown off by singer and actress Carson, who is signed to Hollywood Records and has a number of singles under her belt.

The multi-hyphenate most recently starred in “Purple Hearts,” which tells the story of an aspiring singer-songwriter and a soldier who fall in love against all odds.


American singer Mumu Fresh talks musical childhood and Sole DXB gig

American singer Mumu Fresh talks musical childhood and Sole DXB gig
Updated 6 sec ago

American singer Mumu Fresh talks musical childhood and Sole DXB gig

American singer Mumu Fresh talks musical childhood and Sole DXB gig
  • Baltimore-raised musician says her Dubai concert will 'renew and restore' audiences

DUBAI: Maimouna Youssef, more popularly known by her stage name Mumu Fresh, is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, rapper and activist looking to make a difference in the world with her music. And on Dec. 11, the American musician will take to the stage on the closing day of Sole DXB, the popular Dubai street culture and music festival, returning after a two-year hiatus.

“Oftentimes, people who come to my shows say that they experience a full range of emotions. They feel the joy, they feel hyped up. Sometimes they feel emotional, they cry and then they dance. So yeah, you can expect to have a full range of emotions and feel renewed and restored after,” said Youssef about her upcoming show.

A third-generation singer-songwriter and musician, Youssef grew up in Baltimore and has African American and Native American ancestry. Coming from a musical and blended family, Youssef grew up listening to various musical genres, which gave her the ability to seamlessly straddle various styles with ease and create her own unique sound.

“My grandmother was a gospel choir director, so I learned that very young in my grandmother’s house. My mother became a jazz singer, so I learned to sing jazz when I was very young. And she was very particular about what kinds of music could even be played in the house. If she did not think a person was a good singer, they could not be played in the house. So, she curated the playlist in the home, and I heard a lot of blues, a lot of gospel, a lot of jazz. Funnily enough, I did not hear a whole lot of R&B music, honestly. I kind of studied R&B on my own,” said Youssef about her musical education at home.

“My parents were fans of rap music as well, so I grew up listening to KRS-One, Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest. And then my brothers, they were into Wu-Tang Clan, you know, and at that time, hip-hop was very heavily influenced by Islam. So, growing up Muslim, that was also music that was approved,” she added.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sound Healer (@mumufresh)

Over the course of her musical career, Youssef has collaborated with various artists including The Roots, Salaam Remi, D Smoke, Anderson .Paak, Bruno Mars, Femi Kuti, Zap Mama, Nas, Jill Scott, Ed Sheeran, Common, Raphael Saadiq and Tobe Nwigwe, just to name a few.

A track close to her heart is “Dance Daughter,” released earlier this year, which she says is about “unapologetic joy and care.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sound Healer (@mumufresh)

“I really wanted to create something that helped women, in particular to heal, to let go, to be able to release, to feel some relief after struggling for so long and so hard and holding families together, holding nations together. So often, (as a woman), you’re raising children, you may have careers and you are wives, and you are all of these different things to different people. I identify with that. In my own family, I’m a lot of things to a lot of people. And I have to remind myself to be that to myself too. Okay, everyone needs me, but I need me too. And I can’t come last,” said Youssef.
 


RSIFF take two concludes with winning Saudi film

RSIFF take two concludes with winning Saudi film
Updated 10 December 2022

RSIFF take two concludes with winning Saudi film

RSIFF take two concludes with winning Saudi film
  • Hamza Jamjoom, a Saudi filmmaker and producer of the winning film, accepted the award on behalf of Al-Husaini

JEDDAH: Dec. 8 marked the closing ceremony of Red Sea International Film Festival round two, which celebrated storytellers and participants in the festival competitions who stepped out of their comfort zone to share their stories with the world.

Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, supermodel Naomi Campbell, Indian actor Hrithik Roshan, DJ Khaled, former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, and Hong Kong actor and filmmaker Jackie Chan were among famous faces to appear on the red carpet.

Chan, who is known for his acrobatic fighting style, said that the ceremony night coincided with his 60th year in the film industry.

Jumana Al-Rashed CEO of SRMG left, Antonio Banderas the Spanish legend middle, and, Mohammed Al-Turki CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival during the festival's closing ceremony. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“I want to thank the RSIFF for this — it is where I can see so many good friends and new friends. Also, this year marks my 60 years in the film business, and I want to share this to the friends around the world,” he said. 
Winner of the young rising star award was Jeddah-born Saudi actress Sarah Taibah, 33.

Taibah said: “I didn't know that I would be nominated, thank you Red Sea Film Festival. I feel amazing and grateful for being honored in my country and city.”

A Saudi film wins the Red Sea International Film Festival's second round. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Saudi-Kuwaiti production “How I Got There,” an action drama by Zeyad Al-Husaini, won the Film AlUla audience award for best Saudi film.

Hamza Jamjoom, a Saudi filmmaker and producer of the winning film, accepted the award on behalf of Al-Husaini.

Film AlUla audience award for best film went to a Singapore-South Korean production “Ajoomma,” directed by He Shuming.

The ceremony concluded with a live performance by Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Meanwhile, Red Sea Virtual Reality features a selection of the latest leading VR storytelling and art projects from award-winning international artists and directors.

The strand was adjudicated by London-based Egyptian documentary filmmaker May Abdalla, Bangladeshi artist Naima Karim and Tribeca Film Festivals Immersive Curator Ana Brzezinska

Brzezinska said: “It has been a real honor to be here at the Red Sea Film Festival to judge the virtual reality election. It is a really amazing moment for this medium with an explosive approach to creative ideas. From the sprint of many projects, it was a real challenge to pick just two.”

The Silver Yusr for Red Sea virtual reality went to “Eurydice” by Celine Daemen, while the winner of the Gold Yusr for Red Sea Virtual Reality was “From the Main Square,” a German film by Pedro Harres.

The Red Sea short competition was judged by filmmaker Joana Hadjithomas, Saudi writer and director Shahad Ameen, and Nigerian actor Ozzy Agu.

The jury gave two awards to the Mongolian and French drama “Snow in September” by Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir.

The Silver Yusr for short film went to “Will My Parents Come to See Me,” by Somalian director Muhamed Bashiir Harawe. The Golden Yusr for Short Film went to “On My Father’s Grave,” a Moroccan and French film by Jawahine Zentar.

The Red Sea competition was headed by Oliver Stone, president of this year's jury.

The Silver Yusr for best cinematic achievement went to “Hanging Gardens,” a production of Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, the UK, and Saudi Arabia.

The Silver Yusr award for best actor went to Adam Bessa. The Silver Yusr for best actress went to Adila Bendimarad.

The best screen award was won by “ Childless Village,” by Reza Jamali from Iran.

The Res Sea competition jury prize went to “Within Sand,” a Saudi feature film telling the story of a young man making his way through the desert with the help of a wolf.

“The film is based on actual events that happened in Saudi in early 1900. There is a responsivity to reflect the Saudi culture in the most appropriate way,” director  Mohammed Alatawi told Arab News.

The Silver Yusr award for best director went to Lotfy Nathan for his film “Harka.”

The Golden Yusr for the best feature film went to “Hanging Gardens,” by Ahmed Yassin Al-Daradji.

The festival’s third edition will be held next year in Saudi Arabia. The ceremony concluded with a live performance by Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram.

Though RSIFF festivities and sessions have come to an end, visitors can still enjoy their weekend watching movies from the festival and meeting red-carpet stars.

 


Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music

Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music
Updated 09 December 2022

Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music

Culture ministry signs deal to support Saudi pop music
  • The MoU included a discussion on producing Saudi pop music

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture signed a memorandum of understanding with international companies to develop and produce Saudi pop music, host musical events and train Saudi talents.
The signing ceremony took place at the ministry’s headquarters in the Jax neighborhood in Diriyah, where the ministry was represented by Acting CEO of the Music Commission Sultan Al-Bazei.
The MoU included a discussion on producing Saudi pop music, building a musical ecosystem, discovering Saudi talents and developing Saudi pop content, or S-pop, through a Saudi and Korean creative team of writers and producers.
Also discussed was the possibility of establishing a music education center, a training center, and studios for recording music and video clips.
The agreement falls within the efforts of the ministry and its affiliated entities to advance the cultural sector in the Kingdom, support Saudi creatives and empower them with the necessary skills to further their careers.


REVIEW: ‘Next Sohee’ at Red Sea International Film Festival shines a light on workplace cruelty

REVIEW: ‘Next Sohee’ at Red Sea International Film Festival shines a light on workplace cruelty
Updated 09 December 2022

REVIEW: ‘Next Sohee’ at Red Sea International Film Festival shines a light on workplace cruelty

REVIEW: ‘Next Sohee’ at Red Sea International Film Festival shines a light on workplace cruelty

JEDDAH: “Next Sohee,” South Korea’s competition title at the Red Sea International Film Festival, is a hard look at employee exploitation in the workplace.

The film by July Jung examines South Korea’s shoddy treatment of its workers, especially apprentices, who are frequently cheated out of their wages.

This is the second feature from Jung, whose debut work, “A Girl at My Door,” premiered at the 2014 Cannes’ Un Certain Regard and went on to win several awards at other festivals.

“Next Sohee” was inspired by a real-life incident.

At 138 minutes, the movie may be a trifle long, but it explores a pressing issue with a lot of sensitivity.

The film follows Sohee (Kim Si-eun), a high school student, who is thrilled to land a job as an internet service provider in a big company. But a few days into the role, she is shocked when her supervisor commits suicide in her presence. Her new boss is a brutally rude woman, who never misses an opportunity to humiliate Sohee despite her excellent record.

Added to this toxic mix are abusive clients, who often take out their dissatisfaction with the firm on her. In another scene she sees her boyfriend being pushed around by his boss outside his workplace.

Sohee eventually runs away, but shock and hurt take a heavy toll, and she ends her life.

An investigation led by detective Yoo-jin (Doona Bae), who had a personal relationship with Sohee, enrages the boss and the company leaders, who would rather ignore the issue.

The film is a slow-burning expose of workplace ills and the causes behind them.

However, some may find the narrative overly dramatic and exaggerated. For instance, Sohee gets angry with her boss and pushes her to the ground. Is this possible? July is trying to make a point, but this appears a bit over the top.
 


Egyptian actor Mohamed Farrag — ‘I used to put so much hate on myself’ 

Egyptian actor Mohamed Farrag — ‘I used to put so much hate on myself’ 
Updated 09 December 2022

Egyptian actor Mohamed Farrag — ‘I used to put so much hate on myself’ 

Egyptian actor Mohamed Farrag — ‘I used to put so much hate on myself’ 
  • The Arab actor — currently starring in MBC’s ‘Room 207’ — has overcome self-doubt to become one of the Arab world’s most-acclaimed leading men 

DUBAI: Mohamed Farrag did it the hard way. That’s why it feels different. As Arab News sits with the acclaimed Egyptian actor over lunch in Dubai, the proof is in the way that passersby greet him — they are not just meeting a star, they are meeting an artist whose work they deeply admire. 

MBC Shahid’s new series “Room 207” is perhaps Farrag’s finest work yet, and is just beginning to light a fire across the Arabic-speaking world as we speak — establishing him firmly as a leading man, and vindicating his entire approach to acting. 

“If there’s one thing I want to change about this industry, about the mentality of acting in Egypt, it’s this: Anyone can be well known — if I kill somebody, I’m going to be well known — but what’s the purpose of that fame?” Farrag says. “Fame shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a side effect.” 

Mohamed Farrag stars in MBC Shahid’s new series ‘Room 207.’ (Getty Images)

At 39, Farrag has reached the point where he’s earned the right to make such proclamations. After all, he was vital to the success of Mona Zaki’s super-sized 2021 Ramadan hit “Newton’s Cradle,” which became the most-watched Egyptian series of the year and continues to find an audience on Netflix, with many declaring it the best Arab series in years. 

“Room 207,” since its first two episodes debuted on October 31, is being rated even higher, pulling in big enough audiences to make a second season a foregone conclusion even with only half the first having aired.  

That a series that moves Farrag directly into the spotlight would get that sort of immediate reaction is no surprise. He’s built years of goodwill from committed, scene-stealing performances across film, television and theater. What is perhaps surprising about the show is that it it’s a homegrown Egyptian horror series that has become hugely popular. In general, horror is a genre in which only imports receive acclaim in the Arab world.  

“When I was first sent the script, I picked it up to glance at it before I went to bed. I ended up finishing it at 3 a.m. and immediately called the producer, waking him from a sound sleep. I told him that no one was going to do this project but me. I made that vow to him. I needed it to happen,” says Farrag.  

Riham Abdel Ghafour and Farrag in ‘Room 207.’ (Supplied)

The series is based on a novel by acclaimed Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, the third adaptation of his work since he passed away in 2018. The last, Netflix’s big-budget bet “Paranormal” (2020), failed to find an audience despite a massive promotional push, and while “Room 207” may share a passing resemblance, it’s resonating in a way that other adaptations have not, capturing what made Tawfik’s paperbacks fly off the shelves for decades.   

“To be honest, I started to think we were headed for a season two during the second week of shooting. And I’ve never felt that way before,” says Farrag. “This project has a very special place in my heart. I don't choose to do anything I don't love, but this one is special. And it’s not because I'm the hero, it’s because it’s not like anything I’ve seen before. The vibes, the writing, the cast, the way we shoot — I truly love this.” 

Mohamed Farrag with Mona Zaki in 'Newton's Cradle.' (Supplied)

Perhaps the reason that Farrag is responding to it so strongly is that it taps into the precocious boy he once was, the boy who fell in love with television in the first place. 

“When I was a kid, I didn’t want to watch cartoons, I didn’t want to play with my sisters. No. I was always watching TV — but very heavy series made for adults. It was drama, drama, and more drama all the time. I was like an addict, watching things meant for people far older,” says Farrag. “When I went to school, they asked every kid what they wanted to be. I said I wanted to be an actor. I didn’t even know what acting was, but I was committed.” 

At home, Farrag and his sisters would watch movies on VHS until they found a scene they liked in particular. Then they would press stop, and Farrag would quickly scribble down the scene from memory. Then they would act the scenes out together and record their best performances. 

“I still have the tape recordings of our voices from when we were kids. I still listen to them from time to time, when I miss the feeling. It was a feeling of innocence, of passion toward acting. Those were beautiful memories, and I still get emotional when I think about them,” says Farrag. 

There have been many days since Farrag began his career that he has needed those tapes — needed a reminder that he was doing this for a reason. It is only in recent years, he admits, that he has truly felt like he’s ‘made it.’ For years, he felt insecure not only about his career, but also about his ability, often having difficulty watching his own films and series because of how harshly he would judge his own performances. But his ever-growing mastery of his craft eventually overpowered his self-doubt, and made him a fixture on screens across the Arab world. 

“I think I’ve grown up now. Some elements have changed in my character, and it’s clear in my life, in my work, and in the way I see myself. I used to put so much hate on myself, but I’ve found a way out of that. I started to like myself, and I started to be able to watch my work up on the screen with pride,” he says. 

Farrag is in a particularly reflective mood. Perhaps it’s because he just walked out of MBC’s offices, where he witnessed the ecstatic reactions that the company has had to “Room 207” so far, and how committed MBC already was to making a second season happen — and committed to Farrag personally as an A-list leading man for years to come. It was the kind of meeting that makes those harder truths easier to admit, knowing that the happy ending is already here. That boy recording his voice into the tape recorder is now a man helping lead Arabic television to places it’s never been before.  

“I’ve always loved what I do. Even during the hardest moments, if I asked myself if I wanted to keep going, the voice inside me always repeated back, ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ But it feels different now,” he says. “I’m filled with more pride than I ever was before. I love everything that I’ve done, but now I’m excited for the next thing even more. Acting is beautiful, man.”