Animated film selected for international festival highlights mental health of war children in Jordan

Animated film selected for international festival highlights mental health of war children in Jordan
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“Saleem” tells an uplifting story about a nine-year-old boy who lost his father and was forced to flee with his mother, brother, and sister from his war-torn city. (Supplied)
Animated film selected for international festival highlights mental health of war children in Jordan
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“Saleem” tells an uplifting story about a nine-year-old boy who lost his father and was forced to flee with his mother, brother, and sister from his war-torn city. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 May 2023
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Animated film selected for international festival highlights mental health of war children in Jordan

Animated film selected for international festival highlights mental health of war children in Jordan
  • The arrival in Jordan of more than 1 million refugees fleeing war in Syria sparked the idea to highlight mental health issues
  • “Saleem” was chosen out of 3,338 entries from 112 countries to compete in next month’s Annecy festival

AMMAN: Cynthia Madanat Sharaiha’s life-long passion for all things art has manifested itself onto the silver screen.

Although she studied engineering, a combination of the digital revolution and regional upheavals has moved her into making films with a message.

Her latest project, “Saleem,” a 3-D animated feature, has been selected to participate in the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the movie’s debut festival nomination.

Made with her husband and partner, executive producer Shadi Sharaiha, and produced by Jordanian company Digitales, along with more than 100 Jordanian and international artists, the flick highlights issues related to children’s mental health through the story of a Middle Eastern child forced to flee his home due to war.

During a press conference in Paris, Annecy festival artistic director, Marcel Jean, described the film as “a surprise we did not expect.”

He said: “We were captivated by the sensibility and delicacy of the film. I strongly encourage people to explore the work at the festival this year.”

Deadline reported the selection of “Saleem” for the festival as a “rare participation from the Middle East.”

Sharaiha’s movie was not born out of thin air. Working with mental health experts and seasoned children’s content writers, Digitales produced the “Our Family Life” animation series, a collection of short videos surrounding the Abu Sanad family and addressing social and family themes.

The series became a hit on YouTube amassing 624 million viewers and more than 2 million subscribers. The animation worked well in Arab communities because the characters looked and sounded similar to the people they addressed.

The arrival in Jordan of more than 1 million refugees fleeing war in Syria, sparked the idea to highlight the mental health problems faced by refugees and displaced children, and the interactions with host communities.

In partnership with local and international organizations, Digitales began working on “Saleem,” alongside a digital project looking at the mental health of children around the world affected by traumatic events, using animation and storytelling weaved with therapeutic themes.

“Saleem” was chosen out of 3,338 entries from 112 countries to compete in next month’s Annecy festival against 11 other films in the Contrechamp category.

It tells an uplifting and touching story about a nine-year-old boy called Saleem, who lost his father and was forced to flee with his mother, brother, and sister from his war-torn city. His life changes when a pigeon reveals a map that leads him on a discovery adventure for a treasure he did not expect to need.

Director Sharaiha said: “The film comes from the heart of Jordan carrying a story that we hope will touch the hearts of everyone around the world who watches it.

“We went through a personal journey that took us through our childhood memories and experiences, which helped us empathize with Saleem and see the world through his eyes.

“We felt his pain, fear, and frustration, as well as his strength and hope which grew with the passage of the story.”

She pointed out that the film told not only Saleem’s story but that of millions of marginalized and vulnerable children globally.

“This film shows their plight and highlights the courage that is generated within them, even in the most difficult circumstances,” she added.

Her husband noted the challenges of producing the film, that had taken four years to make.

He said: “We are proud that Jordan produced a film of this quality and impact — talented Jordanian artists, alongside international artists who worked for major studios, such as Disney, and DreamWorks, and others.

“These international artists joined our team because of their belief in the value of this artwork. This collaboration enriched the quality of the film and was a wonderful opportunity for our local talents to work alongside and engage with these international artists.”

Mohannad Al-Bakri, managing director of the Royal Film Commission Jordan, said: “Animation has the power to educate as well as entertain and engage the viewer, thus attracting a large audience.

“The selection of ‘Saleem’ at the prestigious Annecy film festival is a remarkable achievement that the Jordanian film industry can be proud of.”

Digitales is an emerging Jordanian company producing animation and influential digital content and has won several international awards for its work. It is led by a team that specializes in creating family and child-friendly content.

Front Row Filmed Entertainment will distribute “Saleem” exclusively in Arab countries, while I Am a Film will be responsible for festival distribution.


Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London
Updated 21 April 2024
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Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

LONDON: Christie’s has announced a spring sale of “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets,” which will be presented during a live auction at the British auction house’s London headquarters on April 25.

“This season the sale offers a curated selection of 261 lots including four unique collections,” Christie’s said in a statement. “Illustrating the breadth of craftsmanship across 10 centuries, works date from the 10th century to the 20th century and cover a diversity of artistic traditions.”

The works include paintings, ceramics, metal work, works on paper, arms, textiles and rugs and carpets from across the Islamic world, spanning the Silk Route linking China to the West.

A number of private collections will be auctioned, including early Iranian ceramics from a private American collection, as well as Persian and Indian paintings from the collection of art specialists Charles and Regina Slatkin that features a rare work by the Bukhara artist Mahmud Muzahhib.

The carpet section of the auction “is led by Sultans of Silk: The George Farrow Collection, which is a comprehensive study of the very best of silk rug weaving of the late 19th and early 20th centuries gathered over forty years by the late George Farrow,” Christie’s said in its statement. The collection will offer more than 40 finely woven silk carpets.

 

 

According to Christie’s, Farrow was a British collector of silk rugs and his “expansive collection” comprises a variety of silk weavings from different origins.

Sara Plumbly, head of Islamic and Indian art at Christie’s, said: “We are delighted to offer a wide variety of works of art from across the Islamic and Indian worlds this season (and) we are particularly excited about three private collections, all with long provenance, that highlight the breadth and diversity of the artistic traditions of Iran — from Safavid textiles and painting to medieval pottery.”

Louise Broadhurst, international head of rugs and carpets at Christie’s, said the auction house “is honored to offer the collection of George Farrow, whose passion for antique silk rugs is reflected in the illuminating breadth of examples gathered over four decades, which include highlights rarely seen on today’s market.”

The “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets” is open to the public ahead of the live auction from April 21-24 at Christie’s in London.


Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening
Updated 20 April 2024
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Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

DUBAI: French-Algerian actress Sofia Boutella turned heads at the UK premiere of her film “Rebel Moon — Part 2: The Scargiver” in London this week.

Boutella wore a black suit from British fashion designer Stella McCartney with a cropped satin blazer and low-rise straight-leg trousers. She styled her short, dark hair in loose waves, complemented by dramatic cat-eye makeup.

In the sci-fi adventure — a sequel to last year’s “Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire” — which debuted on Netflix April 19, a peaceful colony on the edge of a galaxy finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Kora, played by Boutella, has assembled a small band of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge, and must band together to fight the Motherworld.

Snyder previously spoke about the two-part epic space opera at Netflix’s Tudum global fan event in Brazil, where he showcased a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film, based on a concept he has been developing since college.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

“I’ve been working on this story for quite a while,” Snyder said on stage, according to Deadline. “It’s about a group of farmers on the edge of the galaxy that get visited by the armies of the Motherworld, who are the bad guys. The farmers have to decide to fight or submit.”

He continued: “I don’t want to give it all away, but if they had decided to fight, let’s say that was an option, they would have to travel around the galaxy to find warriors to fight with them. And so, it had us traveling quite a bit.”

Kora is not Algiers-born Boutella’s first role as a sword-wielding extraterrestrial. The actress, who at the age of 10 fled to Paris with her family during the Algerian civil war, is known for her breakout performance in the Oscar-nominated film, “Star Trek Beyond,” in which she portrayed the fierce alien warrior, Jaylah.


Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
Updated 20 April 2024
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Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

DUBAI: Lebanese designer Rami Kadi presented his latest haute couture collection on Friday in AlUla with star-studded guests. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

His summer/spring designs offered something for everyone. The dresses showcased a variety of necklines, ranging from halter gowns and plunging V-shaped dresses to off-the-shoulder styles, strapless designs and more. 

 

 

The dresses, crafted from fabrics such as tulle, chiffon and crepe, exuded voluminous, glitzy and metallic aesthetics. However, there were also satin options and simpler designs available.

 

 

The collection boasted a palette of pastel hues including pink, peach, blue, green, purple, and an array of other colors such as off-white, beige, silver and gold.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

The show was a collaboration between Kadi and AlUla moments. It was attended by Lebanese superstar Najwa Karam, Saudi actress Mila Al-Zahrani, Tunisian actress Dorra Zarouk, and Saudi influencers Nojoud Al-Rumaihi and Lama Alakeel.


Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles
Updated 20 April 2024
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Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES: The third annual Hollywood Arab Film Festival began this week, bringing the best of 2024’s Arab cinema to Los Angeles and giving fans a chance to see the films in theaters as well as introducing a new audience to the Arab world’s top talent.

The event, which runs until April 21, was attended by a number of celebrity guests including Egyptian producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy, Tunisian actor Dhaffer L’Abidine, renowned Egyptian star Elham Shahin and Egyptian producer Tarek El-Ganainy.

 

 

At the event, Hefty said: “Arab cinema really needs a platform to tell our stories and to show who we are, our identity, our hopes and dreams, our pains, and all the different social topics that are tackled in some of the films that are being presented are maybe more relevant today than ever. So I think it’s a great opportunity to have this dialogue.”

Hefzy’s film “Hajjan” was showing at the event. It is a Saudi Arabia-based film directed by Egyptian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky.

“Hajjan is a film about a young boy who got a very special connection to his camel, who has a brother who was a camel jockey and races,” Hefzy said. “And, one day when something really unexpected happens to his brother, and shatters his world, it forces him to step into his brother’s shoes and become a camel jockey, and so starts racing himself.”

The movie is a co-production between the Kingdom’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, and Hefzy’s Film Clinic.

“It was a film made in Saudi Arabia with Saudi talents and actors with an Egyptian director, but with the Saudi co-writer and Saudi actors and shot mostly in Saudi Arabia,” Hefzy said. “So I think it’s, it was a great experience, and learned a lot about Saudi Arabia, learned a lot about the culture.”

The festival featured cinema from various Arab countries, presenting films from 16 different nations. Marlin Soliman, strategic planning director of HAFF, highlighted the inclusion of six feature films, ten short films and six student films.

Spanning five days, HAFF offered its audience a vibrant experience, including a red-carpet affair, panel discussions on filmmaking and diversity in Hollywood, and, of course, screenings of high-profile films.

The festival also saw several filmmakers singing the praises of Saudi Arabia’s expanding film industry.

L’Abidine, the writer and director of “To My Son,” said: “I’m thrilled to be back again with my second feature film ‘To My Son,’ a Saudi film… I think there is a great evolution of Saudi cinema that’s been happening in the last few years.”


Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week
Updated 19 April 2024
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Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

DUBAI: US award-winning comedian Dave Chappelle is set to perform in the UAE at the Abu Dhabi Comedy Week on May 23, organizers announced on Friday.

The capital city’s first-ever comedy festival will run from May 18-26 at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena.

Chappelle will join a long list of comedians performing at the event, including Chris Tucker, Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura, Jo Koy, Tommy Tiernan, Kevin Bridges, Andrew Santino, Bobby Lee, Andrew Schulz, Bassem Youssef and Maz Jobrani.

With numerous accolades and awards to his name, including multiple Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards, Chappelle is renowned for his wit and fearless commentary on contemporary issues.

While May 23 will mark Chappelle’s inaugural performance in Abu Dhabi, he has previously captivated audiences with two sold-out shows in Dubai.