Heritage, landscape inspires Saudi artist’s decoupage centerpieces
Walaa Hosawi will be selling planters, hand-poured candles and more at her booth at the Saudi Feast Food Festival, which runs until Dec. 9
Walaa Hosawi: The idea is whenever you purchase anything from my work, you could use it for more than one purpose
Updated 04 December 2023
RIYADH: Saudi heritage and tradition are the inspirations behind artist Walaa Hosawi’s handcrafted decoupage art.
Hosawi will be selling planters, hand-poured candles and more at her booth at the Saudi Feast Food Festival, which runs until Dec. 9.
“I incorporate Najdi designs and textiles into my work,” Hosawi told Arab News. “The culture of our country has greatly influenced my work. It made me delve deeper into the cultures of the region and try to convey them in the form of a masterpiece. (My work) combines the authenticity of our culture, the beauty of its colors and geometric shapes, and the art of decoupage.”
After using the technique — which embellishes materials such as wood, glass and metal — to design planters, Hosawi pairs them with eco-friendly farmable pencils.
“I thought of this product for recycling, agriculture and to be environmentally friendly. After you finish using the pencil, take the upper part and plant it in the soil.” The pencils come in several varieties including parsley, basil and chili pepper.
Hosawi hand-pours her boat candles with a special personalized mixture of wax and scents, and then decorates them.
Speaking about the inspiration she finds in the Saudi landscape, she added: “I find myself greatly stimulated by nature and contemplating the landscapes of our country. This inspired me a lot and helped me produce artistic pieces.”
Hosawi also creates colorful multi-functional stands that can be used in different ways, such as a room centerpiece or perfume stand. She said: “The idea is whenever you purchase anything from my work, you could use it for more than one purpose.”
Hosawi said creating art gave her a sense of escape and tranquility: “I consider art a means that helps with health and psychological stability. Art is an outlet; it helps one find peace, calm and a sense of comfort, and that is why it is important for art to have a place in our society.”
A university course sparked Hosawi’s imagination, though she had been interested in art for some time. This also led her to explore various different media.
“I started designing fashion due to my studies in the college of textiles and sewing,” she said. “Then I delved deeper into the world of arts until I met decoupage. Here I felt I found myself and my passion began.”
Since designing her first decoupage piece — a wooden jewelry box that “still holds dear value” — Hosawi has seen her work change and develop.
She said: “All of this is thanks to God and the support I received from my country and my family to reach a better level.”
Through support from friends, family and other initiatives, Hosawi has prospered. She says such encouragement has been “the fuel that pushed me to continue producing unique artistic pieces through which I showcase the beautiful culture of my country.”
The Saudi Feast Food Festival features 13 zones that include culinary art heritage, theater, the Gourmand Awards, a children’s interactive farm and more.
Stars show off Arab designs at Academy Museum Gala in Los Angeles
Updated 04 December 2023
DUBAI: Hollywood stars hit the red carpet at the 2023 Academy Museum Gala in Los Angeles on Monday night in a sparkling array of Arab creations, including looks by designers Georges Hobeika, Elie Saab, Tony Ward and Hedi Slimane.
First up was US rapper and actress Awkwafina who showed off an elegant look by Lebanese couturier Georges Hobeika, complete with a tulle skirt and pearl-and-gemstone detailing across the jacket. The ensemble hailed from Hobeika’s Fall/Winter 2022 couture line and was styled with KatKim jewelry.
Model and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen opted for a gown by Lebanese Italian designer Tony Ward that was picked from his Fall/Winter 2023 couture line, while actress Taraji P. Henson
chose a jewel purple number by Lebanon’s Zuhair Murad from his Fall/Winter 2023 ready-to-wear line.
For her part, Danai Gurira showed off an ice blue Elie Saab look, from the Fall/Winter 2022 couture line, and model Kaia Gerber, whose mother is supermodel Cindy Crawford, was dressed in a custom-made gown by Celine’s creative head, Tunisian designer Hedi Slimane.
After being rescheduled from its original September date, the 2023 Academy Museum Gala took place on Monday night and saw the likes of Simu Liu, Dua Lipa, Lupita Nyong’o and Selena Gomez walk the red and pink carpet.
The evening marked the third annual benefit for the movie museum, where current exhibits spotlight the works of directors John Waters and Lourdes Portillo as well as the 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood” Icons Meryl Streep, Michael B. Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and Sofia Coppola were honored at the event this week.
Streep received the Icon Award, given to an artist whose career had a notable influence worldwide; Michael B. Jordan was given the Vantage Award, given to an emerging artist or scholar working to challenge and contextualize existing dominant narratives around film; Winfrey was awarded the Pillar Award, recognizing leadership and support for the Academy Museum; Coppola nabbed the Visionary Award, given to an artist or scholar whose innovations have advanced film as an art.
Director Ava DuVernay, actress Halle Berry, director Ryan Murphy and Dr. Eric Esrailian were the co-chairs for the evening.
Red Sea International Film Festival spotlights Korean entertainment
Updated 04 December 2023
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival is making a visible effort to attract titles from across the world — with Arab, Bollywood, Hollywood and Korean celebrities gracing many a red carpet at the Nov. 30-Dec. 9 event in Jeddah.
Earlier this week, the star of the Korean thriller mini-series “The Deal” Yoo Seung-Ho walked the red carpet at VOX Cinemas in the Red Sea Mall.
“The Deal” is an eight-episode South Korean drama that is based on a Korean comic series made by artist Woonam 20. It tells the story of Jae-Hyo who kidnaps his rich friend Park Minwoo to ask for a ransom from the latter’s mother, and Lee Jun-Seong, played by Yoo Seung-Ho, who is torn between rescuing his friend Minwoo or assisting his friend Jae-Hyo in the criminal act due to his urgent need for money to save his and his father’s lives.
Only the first three episodes of the emotionally provoking series premiered on the silver screen in Jeddah. After the screening, the director spoke to the audience about why he decided to turn the comic story into a live-action series.
“Why did I do it? Because the concept of a friend kidnapping a friend is very provocative, or as we say in Korea ‘very spicy’,” said director Lee. “I decided that this is a concept which can show how the younger people, the youth in Korea, live.”
When asked by Arab News about the scene he found the most challenging, Seung-Ho said the role as a whole was a tough nut to crack.
“The biggest challenge was having to be this character whose hostile hostage is a friend, and the kidnapper is also his friend. And I’m in the middle of it all,” said Seung-Ho.
“And of course, the fights were physically challenging, but there was also this psychological and mental challenge of playing the scenes where I am the friend of both the kidnapper and the hostage,” he said.
RSIFF title ‘Antidote’ sheds light on the challenges faced by Saudi musicians in the past
Updated 04 December 2023
JEDDAH: Saudi director Hassan Saeed is set to unveil his short film “Antidote” at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah and spoke to Arab News ahead of the screening to explain the themes he explores and why he chose to tell this story.
The 20-minute film tells the story of a young boy, Ali, who sets out with his father’s tape recorder to record a folk singer named Abu Hussain.
However, Abu Hussain loses his voice after undergoing throat surgery, and Ali reconnects with him through a previous recording. The deliberate use of silence surrounding Abu Hussain serves as a powerful motif, symbolizing his enduring struggle and passion for music, set against the challenges faced by Saudi musicians in the past.
Saeed said that he drew inspiration for “Antidote” from his formative years in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
“Having grown up in a society where musicians and music were not widely embraced, my goal was to portray the challenges encountered by underground musicians in the 1990s. The film intertwines a personal narrative with a broader cultural context, showcasing the unwavering determination and commitment of artists in the face of adversity,” he said.
The director is excited about showing his work to global audiences at the festival, which attracts participation from international industry figures.
“I firmly believe that our stories possess a unique quality, and through ‘Antidote,’ we can offer a fresh and captivating perspective to audiences worldwide. I anticipate the film resonating deeply with viewers, sparking meaningful conversations, and bridging cultural gaps,” he said.
“I am thrilled about the prospect of presenting ‘Antidote’ at the Red Sea Film Festival, as it offers an ideal setting to connect with international directors and producers who share a profound passion for cinema.”
Reflecting on his career as a filmmaker, Saeed said that growing up in a conservative society with limited access to cinema, his fascination with the art form began with a VHS camcorder in the late 1980s. This early exposure to capturing moments on film sparked his love for observing the world through a lens.
Saeed’s hope is that “Antidote” will allow audiences to connect with the characters and their struggles, and also spark an appreciation for local stories.
“The characters and their journeys are not limited to a specific culture or region; they represent universal experiences that can resonate with people from different backgrounds,” he said.
“Through my work, I hope to bridge cultural gaps and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Saudi culture.”
With its unique storytelling and cinematic style, “Antidote” stands out, particularly as a period piece set in the 1990s.
The film was made in collaboration with German director of photography Christoph Schumann, and has garnered widespread recognition, including two Golden Palm awards for best short film and best cinematography at the 2023 Saudi Film Festival.
Saeed said that through “Antidote” and future projects, he hopes to contribute to a “more comprehensive and accurate understanding of Saudi culture on a global scale.”
He added: “Film has the power to transcend boundaries and bring people together, and it is my mission to use this medium to tell meaningful and impactful stories.”
Oscar-nominated director Kaouther Ben Hania talks challenges faced filming ‘Four Daughters’
Updated 04 December 2023
LOS ANGELES: After winning the L’Oeil d’or award for best documentary following its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s movie “Four Daughters” will now screen at Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival.
Ben Hania is no stranger to critical acclaim and saw her 2020 feature "The Man Who Sold His Skin" nominated at the Academy Awards in the best international feature film category. Tunisia has now submitted her latest film in the same category for the 2024 Oscars, with the nominations yet to be announced.
She spoke to Arab News about the challenges involved in filming the flick.
She said: “It’s not about one scene or another. It’s about how to translate all the complexity of this story, all the layers of this story, because it’s a movie about motherhood.
“It’s a movie about transmission between generations, transmission of trauma also. It’s a movie about Tunisia. All those themes were very important to me.”
The film tells the true story of Olfa Hamrouni, a heart-broken Tunisian mother of four daughters. The two eldest, aged 15 and 16, disappear in 2015 after being radicalized by extremists.
Ben Hania started working on “Four Daughters” in 2016, when she first heard the story on the news in Tunisia.
“I started thinking about making a documentary about it. But when I met Olfa and her daughters, I thought that I could do a fly-on-the-wall documentary. It took me some years to come up with the actual form of the movie,” she added.
Professional actresses filled in for the missing sisters, while renowned Egyptian actress Hend Sabri replaced Hamrouni as memories started to weigh heavy on the mom. This created a unique hybrid of fiction and documentary in the co-production between Tunisia, France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.