Netflix celebrates iconic Arab women filmmakers at RSIFF

Special Netflix celebrates iconic Arab women filmmakers at RSIFF
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The immersive experience of Netflix’s creative space at the Red Sea International Film Festival. (AN Photo)
Special Netflix celebrates iconic Arab women filmmakers at RSIFF
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Saudi film director Hana Al-Omair. (AN Photo)
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Updated 06 December 2022

Netflix celebrates iconic Arab women filmmakers at RSIFF

Netflix celebrates iconic Arab women filmmakers at RSIFF
  • Netflix hosted a creative space at Red Sea Souk to celebrate the pioneering spirit of four Arab filmmakers, Hana Al-Omair, Hend Sabri, Kaouther Ben Hania and Tima Shomali
  • Hana Al-Omair: I am so happy with the new change that the Saudi film industry is experiencing, especially with more females behind cameras and on-screen, and actresses

JEDDAH: Global video streaming giant Netflix recently released a specially curated collection of 21 Arab films in 2022 by women filmmakers spanning various genres, including documentaries, drama, and romance, as part of a dedicated collection titled “Because She Created.”

During the first six days of the Red Sea International Film Festival, Netflix hosted a creative space at Red Sea Souk to celebrate the pioneering spirit of four iconic women filmmakers from the Arab world, including Hana Al-Omair from Saudi Arabia, Hend Sabri and Kaouther Ben Hania from Tunisia, and Jordan’s Tima Shomali.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by هند صبري (@hendsabri)

The space aims to amplify women filmmakers’ voices to an international audience of esteemed industry professionals and future generations of female storytellers throughout the “Because She Created” platform so that more stories from the Arab world can be loved globally.

Al-Omair and Shomali showed up on the fifth day of the RSIFF for media junkets.

Al-Omair told Arab News that she likes to add a female element to her working crew because it adds balance.




Hana Al-Omair is from Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

“I personally think that in front and behind of the camera, the more female characters, the better, because it is always about the stories by nature, which are always revolving around untold female stories.”

Al-Omair is an award-winning director and the woman behind the first Saudi thriller drama series on Netflix, “Whispers.”

She said that “Whispers” reflects on-the-ground women’s empowerment through screen.

“There are so many women working in a different field that we haven’t heard of on the screen,” she said: adding: “Netflix was the perfect platform for displaying my series as it helped to narrate the story of Saudi women in an unusual way.

“I am so happy with the new change that the Saudi film industry is experiencing, especially with more females behind cameras and on-screen, and actresses. All this would support more content and female stories to rise.”

Netflix has a special collection of Saudi content. For women filmmakers, it started with “Wadjda,” the work of iconic Saudi film director Haifaa Al-Mansour.

Shomali is director of “AlRawabi School for Girls,” a first-of-its-kind young adult series in the Arab region.

The six-episode series tells the story of a bullied high school girl who gathers together a group of outcasts to plot the perfect revenge on their tormentors.

Shomali is also a producer and scriptwriter. She told Arab News: “I am so happy to take part in this initiative that supports young Arab filmmakers, which is something I personally advocate for as it represents my work in terms of women empowering women in the industry.”

She added: “I feel like it is my responsibility to support female emerging talents in filmmaking because I did not have an easy journey, and a lot of people on the way gave me an opportunity to rise, and now I am interested to give back an opportunity for those young females passionate about the film industry.”

Netflix launched the “Because She Created” platform last year as a virtual panel talk hosting Arab women filmmakers discussing the evolving role of women in the industry.

Nuha El-Tayeb, director of Netflix content acquisitions in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey was also present at this year’s event.

She told Arab News: “What’s important for us is bringing Arabic stories from our region targeting the local market and at the same time for them to have that option to travel across the world … one and foremost is our support for female filmmakers, whether they are in front of the screen or behind the screen.”

The Netflix collection aims to give more people the chance to see their lives reflected on screen and entice new audiences to discover the work of women storytellers from the Arab world.

El-Tayeb added: “Yes, we want to support women. We want to bring these amazing movies to one place where people can watch it and enjoy the movies, and it’s a start to many more coming down the line with what we have created now.”

The collection celebrates the creativity of the Arab world’s greatest women storytellers, including the works of brilliant directors from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Tunisia.


Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   

Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   
Updated 08 February 2023

Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   

Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   
  • ‘This movie is really important in the context of the Saudi film industry because it’s a local commercial film and one of our beginner initiatives, and we won’t stop at that. There’ll be many films to come,’ Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj told Arab News

DUBAI: Saudi comedy “Sattar” will get its UK premiere on Thursday.  

The movie will screen in London at the Odeon Covent Garden. The film’s stars Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj and Abdulaziz Alshehri will attend the UK premiere.  

The story revolves around Saad, played by Al-Hajjaj, who dreams of becoming a wrestler while battling failures in his professional and love lives. His plans soon go south when an embarrassing video of him wrestling goes viral. 

Feeling hopeless, he enlists the help of the eccentric Ali Hogeen, portrayed by Alshehri, the self-proclaimed most-famous wrestling manager in the region. Hogeen introduces him to an underground wrestling network known as “The Pit,” and Pakistani coach Abdul Khaleq, portrayed by the film’s writer, producer and actor Ibrahim Alkhairallah, has Saad join the largest freestyle wrestling tournament in the region. 

The movie, made by Telfaz11’s new production house Al-Shimaisi Films, first premiered in the Kingdom on Dec. 22, 2022 at Riyadh Boulevard City’s Muvi Cinema.  

The film’s stakeholders collaborated with the Saudi Pro Wrestling society alongside the first Saudi wrestler, Naif Al-Mutairi, to choreograph fight scenes. 

The movie first premiered in the Kingdom on Dec. 22, 2022 at Riyadh Boulevard City’s Muvi Cinema. (AN Photo: Abdulrahman Alshalhoub)

Al-Hajjaj lost 15 kg during an intense wrestling boot camp four months prior to filming in preparation for the role. 

Al-Hajjaj and Alkhairallah were coached by Al-Mutairi on the performance aspect of entering a ring, hyping up the crowd, and initiating a fight sequence.  

“There were so many exciting moments during the shoot but I’m happy that I could learn wrestling. That’s the beauty of the acting industry, that you learn new stuff in every role, so I’m really happy about that,” Al-Hajjaj said in a previous interview with Arab News. 

“This movie is really important in the context of the Saudi film industry because it’s a local commercial film and one of our beginner initiatives, and we won’t stop at that. There’ll be many films to come,” he added.  

Meanwhile, Alshehri said: “We are a society that loves comedy. We love to laugh and joke around, and that’s our goal with this.” 


Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates birthday in Saudi Arabia with friends and family 
Updated 07 February 2023

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 Marques.

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 06 February 2023

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.  


Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu delights fans in Jeddah

Kumar Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Kumar Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 05 February 2023

Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu delights fans in Jeddah

Kumar Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Making his first ever appearance in the Kingdom, Sanu thrilled the audience of mostly Indian expats, serving up renditions of more than 20 songs

JEDDAH: Bollywood singer Kumar Sanu wowed the crowds on Friday night as the latest celebration of Indian culture drew to a close.

Sanu was the star of the show for the two-day music festival at the Equestrian Club in Jeddah’s Al-Frosyah district, which was organized by Good Hope Events in cooperation with the General Entertainment Authority.

Making his first ever appearance in the Kingdom, Sanu thrilled the audience of mostly Indian expats, serving up renditions of more than 20 songs.

“I have been waiting to perform in Saudi Arabia and here we are in Jeddah for the first time,” he told his adoring fans from the stage.

“We have a great crowd and I am happy to see you enjoying the night.”

Also on the bill were Rachna Chopra, Biplab and Afsal, who helped ramp up the crowds with a host of Bollywood numbers.

“I am amazed by the energy that flowed from you guys,” Chopra told the crowd.

Fan Nadia Azmi, who went to the gig with friends, said: “We all are privileged to have Sanu among us in Jeddah today. We all have grown up listening to his songs since the ’80s and ’90s.

“It is wonderful to listen to him live today. I want to thank Saudi Arabia and the organizers for their efforts in making this possible.”

Junaise Babu, chairman of Good Hope Events, said the festival had been a huge success.

“It was a great feeling to see so many men, women, young and old, not only Indian expatriates but also other Asians enjoying the various musicians we brought.”

Amrina Qaiser, who introduced Sanu on stage, said: “It was an amazing experience hosting such a mega event in Jeddah for the first time.

“I felt overwhelmed and I was lucky enough to interact with the king of melody from Bollywood, Kumar Sanu.”