Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan talks ‘Nezouh’ ahead of Red Sea premiere

Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan talks ‘Nezouh’ ahead of Red Sea premiere
The film took home the Armani Beauty Audience Award at this year's Venice Film Festival. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 December 2022

Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan talks ‘Nezouh’ ahead of Red Sea premiere

Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan talks ‘Nezouh’ ahead of Red Sea premiere
  • Coming-of-age drama inspired by photo of bombed house
  • The film took home the Armani Beauty Audience Award at this year's Venice Film Festival

DUBAI: Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan, who will showcase her lauded second feature film “Nezouh” at the ongoing Red Sea International Film Festival on Dec. 7, is no stranger to telling stories of conflict. But while other filmmakers may look to the violence and the tragedy, Kaadan turns to hope and the whimsical to bring context to the horrors.

“Because the experience is still so traumatic and so harsh and difficult and clear, (I) only could express my story with magical realism,” said Kaadan in a virtual interview with Arab News.

The filmmaker is excited to attend RSIFF 2022, saying the film festival has supported “Nezouh” from day one. “Antoine Khalife (director of Arab programs and film classics for the RSIFF) loved the film from the first cut. Even Kaleem Aftab (head of international programing) supported the film from the beginning, even before it was picked at the Venice Film Festival. I feel as a program and a festival, Red Sea is appreciating the stories we are telling,” said Kaadan.

Kaadan, who was born in France but moved to Syria as a child, started writing the script of “Nezouh” in 2013. At the time she had just fled the war-torn country with her sisters, and had also wrapped up writing her first feature “The Day I Lost My Shadow.”




Filmmaker Soudade Kaadan. (Supplied)

 For the coming-of-age drama “Nezouh,” she was inspired by a photo of a bomb-damaged house in Syria. In her director’s statement on the Venice Film Festival’s website, Kaadan states that “Nezouh” in Arabic is the “displacement of souls, water and people; it is the displacement of light and darkness.”




A still from the film. (Supplied)

 “It started actually from a real photo of a bombed building, completely dark and destroyed. And there’s light invading the place from a hole in the ceiling. And this real image made me think it’s a metaphor and feel immediately that this is the image of my next film. It’s a metaphor of what happened in the country. It’s a tragic, tragic situation, but we can still find hope and light,” said Kaadan, who now lives in London.

 “Nezouh” sees Syrian actors Samer Al-Masri and Kinda Alloush play a husband and wife who are in conflict over whether to stay in their besieged hometown of Damascus or flee and become refugees. In the meantime, their 14-year-old daughter, played by newcomer Hala Zein, watches her world quite literally open up when a missile rips a hole in the roof and her neighbor, played by fellow newcomer Nizar Alani, throws down a rope.

 Discovering Hala Zein

 While the parents in the film are played by established Syrian actors, finding the 14-year-old protagonist took some time and effort. “She’s the spirit of the film and had to be someone who could carry the film,” said Kaadan.

“So, one week before rehearsals, she was having dinner with her family and someone from casting spotted her and she wasn't thinking at all to be an actress. But when she came to the casting, I immediately knew she could make it. She was strong, she was innocent, she was spontaneous, and she was also brave,” added Kaadan, visibly proud of her young lead star.




A still from the film. (Supplied)

 The filmmaker went on to explain the rigorous exercises Zein had to go through to be able to carry out the scenes where she had to climb a rope to reach the roof. “We had a safety team and a harness standing by in case she couldn’t (climb the rope) but every time she did it. We kept laughing because we were paying all this money for a team of people we didn’t need,” added Kaadan, still chuckling at the memory.

The Red Sea International Film Festival runs until Dec. 10.


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 
Updated 31 sec ago

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

DUBAI: Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo turned 38 on Feb. 5 and celebrated his birthday with family and close friends in an intimate gathering in Saudi Arabia. 

His longtime partner Georgina Rodriguez and oldest son Cristiano Jr. were also present for the celebrations.  

Among the attendees were his oldest friends Miguel Paixao and Jose Semedo. Ronaldo also invited Madrid-based reporter Edu Aguirre and wife Julia Salmean, along with his new personal manager and agent Ricky Regufe and personal wealth manager Miguel Marque.s

Ronaldo took to Instagram to share a few snapshots from the day, captioning the post” “Thank you everyone for all the birthday messages. Grateful to have spent the day with my family and friends.” 

In the photos, the football superstar can be seen posing in front of a table laden with multiple birthday cakes. Another photo shared in the carousel of images shows Ronaldo taking advantage of the winter weather on what appears to be a trip to the desert, complete with a roaring bonfire and traditional tents.  

Rodriguez also took to social media to post a loving message for Ronaldo’s birthday. “Happy days to the love of my life. In love with you and what we are together,” wrote the Argentine model. 

After scoring his first goal for Al-Nassr last week, Ronaldo will be next seen in action on Thursday against Al-Wehda in a Saudi Pro League match. 


Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai
Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Elba is also a DJ and has performed at venues across the world. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 29 sec ago

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

Actor-DJ Idris Elba to headline techno music festival in Dubai

DUBAI: Hollywood actor and DJ Idris Elba is set to headline the Dubai edition of global techno and house music festival Elrow XXL on Feb. 17, it was announced on Monday.

Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Elba is also a DJ and has performed at venues across the world, including Coachella, Sound in Los Angeles and Output in New York. His UK apperances include Ministry of Sound in London, as well as both the Creamfields and Glastonbury festivals.

A map of the Dubai edition shared by the festival on social media. (Instagram)

His appearance at the Elrow XXL marks his first time performing in the Middle East.

Elrow XXL will be held at Dubai Design District on Feb. 17 and 18.

The festival has previously been staged in 84 cities across 34 countries, including London, Barcelona, Ibiza, Amsterdam, Madrid, Las Vegas, Antwerp, Frankfurt  and New York.

“I love Dubai. And I love playing Elrow shows. I’m looking forward to this one a lot,” Elba said in a released statement.

Apart from Elba, the festival features a lineup of international DJs and artists, including Armand Van Helden, Sam Devine, Sonny Fodera, Alisha, Arielle Free, R3WIRE, Wade and Chelina Manuhutu.


Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival
Updated 06 February 2023

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

Egyptian film ‘Feathers’ wins big at Joburg Film Festival

DUBAI: Egyptian director Omar El-Zohairy’s “Feathers” took home the Best Film prize at the 5th Joburg Film Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, this weekend.  

The much-awarded film was the winner of Cannes Critics’ Week in 2021 and bagged awards at the El-Gouna Film Festival, Carthage Film Festival and Pingyao Film Festival, as well as last year’s Rabat International Author Film Festival. 

“The jury process for 2023’s Joburg Film Festival was an amazing meeting of minds of a highly experienced and diverse African team of filmmakers,” said juror Njoki Muhoho, according to Variety.  

“During the deliberations, the diversity of knowledge and skills in storytelling came into play. The respect for fellow filmmakers’ craft was evidenced in the discipline and attention in which we screened and watched the films,” Muhoho added.  


US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023

US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023
Updated 06 February 2023

US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023

US actress Megan Fox stuns in Lebanese label at Grammys 2023
  • Beyonce broke the record for the most Grammy wins of any artist, scoring her 32nd prize ever

DUBAI: US actress Megan Fox opted for an elegant white gown from Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad as she supported her musician-fiance Machine Gun Kelly (MGK)  at the 2023 Grammy Awards on Sunday night.

The couple, who were going for a “Romeo & Juliet” look wore complimentary outfits in matching metallics, with Fox opting for a more toned-down look to shine light on her partner.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Maeve Reilly (@stylememaeve)

Fox’s stylist took to Instagram to share the story behind her look. “Story time, when Adam shared the sketch of MGK’s look, I immediately thought of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ I wanted to find a simple classic white gown for Megan but still something that felt like her with a bit of an edge.

“I knew this was the dress the second I saw it and begged them to ship it in from Paris for me. It was exactly what she wanted and was the only thing she tried on. Tonight was his night so we really wanted to keep her look simple and classic so he could shine,” posted Maeve Reilly on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Fox (@meganfox)

The "Transformers" actress, 32, added to the glam with a custom 14K carat white gold and diamond nail set by Marrow Fine Jewelry and Nails and jewelry from designer Lorraine Schwartz.

This year, MGK was up for best rock album for “Mainstream Sellout,” but ahead of the ceremony, the win went to Ozzy Osbourne's “Patient Number 9.”

Meanwhile, superstar Beyonce broke the record for the most Grammy wins of any artist, scoring her 32nd prize ever and fourth of the night to resounding applause.

She won the title by winning the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for her smash “Renaissance,” surpassing the late classical conductor Georg Solti, who had 31 awards.

“I’m trying not to be too emotional,” the singer-songwriter said as her husband Jay-Z stood and applauded her. The singer thanked her late uncle, her parents, Jay-Z and her children for supporting her. “I’m just trying to receive this night. I want to thank God for protecting me. Thank you, God.”

Former One Direction member Harry Styles won the award for Best Pop Vocal Album for “Harry's House.” The singer said recording the song was one of the “greatest experiences of my life. It’s been my greatest joy.”

Also, notably, actress Viola Davis emerged from Sunday's show an EGOT — a term for those who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony — after her win for best audio book, narration and storytelling recording.


US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  
Updated 05 February 2023

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

US actress Tessa Brooks shows off Saudi label Eman Alajlan in Los Angeles  

DUBAI: US actress, social media star and dancer Tessa Brooks showed off a sleek look by Saudi designer Eman Alajlan at the 2023 MusiCares Persons of the Year event in Los Angeles over the weekend.  

US actress and social media star Tessa Brooks showed off a sleek look by Saudi designer Eman Alajlan. (Getty Images)

The 23-year-old multi-hyphenate showed off an all-black ensemble by Alajlan at an event that honored retired American record executive Berry Gordy and legendary Motown singer Smokey Robinson at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Check the Tag (@checkthetag)

The pair of creatives are the architects behind a generation of soul-pop hits and they stood side-by-side on Friday night to accept a double-billed MusiCares Persons of the Year honor. MusiCares is non-profit wing of the Recording Academy and holds the annual gala ahead of the Grammy Awards, which took place on Sunday night.  

Brooks opted to show off a Saudi design on a red carpet that welcomed the who’s who of the entertainment industry — performers who took to the the stage at the event included Brandi Carlile, Jimmie Allen, PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, Mumford & Sons, Isley Brothers, Michael McDonald, The Temptations, Rita Wilson and The Four Tops, Molly Tuttle and more.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MusiCares (@musicares)

Musical icons Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie also made on-stage appearances.  

Brooks chose a sculptured look by Alajlan, featuring a form-fitting bodice and skirt topped with a wrap-around collar dusted with gemstones.  

The social media star showed off her outfit of choice to her 19 million Instagram followers by way of a set of Instagram Stories.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tessa Brooks (@tessabrooks)

The model and actress also recently posted about her visits to Saudi Arabia, where she attended the Red Sea International Film Festival in December before jetting back to the Kingdom to visit the historical site of AlUla in January.  

“Sunrise in AlUla,” she captioned a carousel of shots on Instagram in which she can be seen basking in the Saudi sun wearing a toweled robe.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tessa Brooks (@tessabrooks)

Alajlan, who has a store in Riyadh, established her label in 2007 and specializes in couture, bridal and pret-a-porter dresses. She has dressed a number of regional celebrities for international events, including the 2019 Venice Film Festival when Saudi actresses Mila Alzahrani and Dae Al-Hilali hit the red carpet in her creations.