“Embarking on an incredible journey to represent Lebanon in the Miss Universe competition, the model wrote on Instagram. "With love and pride for my hometown, let’s shine on the global stage!”
Aboul Horn is not the only Arab taking place in the competition. She will be joined by Moira Tantawy, the 21-year-old model who was crowned Miss Universe Egypt 2023 this week, as well as Miss Universe Bahrain Lujane Yacoub.
Film AlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal
Updated 02 December 2023
JEDDAH: Hollywood movies “Fourth Wall” and “Chasing Red” are set to be filmed in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla in 2024 as part of a 10-project deal between Film AlUla — the Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency — and global media company Stampede Ventures.
The announcement was made at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Saturday. Stampede Ventures CEO Greg Silverman and executive director of Film AlUla Charlene Deleon-Jones gave further details of the three-year deal, which also includes the previously announced dramatic comedy “K-Pops!”
“Fourth Wall” follows a former child star from a popular TV sitcom who is kidnapped and wakes up in a complete recreation of the show’s set with the rest of the cast, where she must work through her trauma and recreate iconic moments from the series to stay alive and find a way out.
Meanwhile, “Chasing Red” is a romance centered around straight-A student Veronica and wealthy playboy Caleb. It is an adaptation of a book by Filipino-Canadian author Isabelle Ronin and is being directed by Jessika Borsiczky, who told Arab News that the story attracted her because “romance is so universal, especially first love, and especially stories about women finding who they are and then finding who they are in relation to the world.”
Stampede Ventures will be among the first to use Film AlUla’s production facility, which includes a 30,000-square-foot soundstage, backlot, production support buildings, workshops, warehouses, recording studio and training and rehearsal space.
There will be emphasis on using Saudi talent during the production process, Deleon-Jones said, adding: “One of the most significant parts of what we’re doing is the training and development, because this gives us an opportunity to really develop below-the-line crew in somewhere like AlUla, where traditionally the main careers open to you would have been agriculture. We have a young working population who are vibrant and digitally engaged somewhere which is seen as one of the more remote places, (and now) you have this whole new exciting career path.”
The key, she said, was to prove to talent in Saudi Arabia that the film industry is a “sustainable” career choice. Silverman echoed that, saying the deal was “designed specifically so that people can come in and get a chance to prove (themselves) and then there’s another movie coming in the next month that they can be pulled into.”
Silverman is an entertainment industry veteran known for his track record at Warner Bros. where he shepherded over 125 films to more than $38 billion in worldwide box office, most notably the “Harry Potter” series, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, Zack Snyder’s “300,” Todd Phillips’ iconic “Hangover” trilogy, and “Joker.”
Previous Hollywood productions shot in AlUla include the Gerard Butler-led action-thriller “Kandahar,” directed by Ric Roman Waugh, and “Cherry,” starring Tom Holland and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
The shoemaker, who is of Jordanian and Romanian descent, has collaborated with clothing retail company Ounass for a four-week pop-up.
“I wanted to create a special experience for our community, a space that feels like an oasis from an outer world,” she wrote, sharing pictures of the place. “Visit the store and shop the collection starting Dec. 1 for the next 30 days. Happy shopping!”
To celebrate the launch, Ounass hosted an exclusive A-list dinner that was attended by rapper Kanye West, his partner Bianca Censori, American singer Ty Dolla $ign and Lebanese actress Nadine Nassib Njeim.
DUBAI: The UN World Food Programme this week announced that its goodwill ambassador, Canadian singer The Weeknd — whose birth name is Abel Tesfaye — has donated $2.5 million from his XO Humanitarian Fund to aid WFP’s humanitarian response in Gaza.
The donation, which equates to 4 million emergency meals, will fund 820 tons of food parcels that could feed more than 173,000 Palestinians for two weeks, the organization said.
“This conflict has unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe beyond reckoning. WFP is working round the clock to provide aid in Gaza but a major scale up is needed to address the desperate level of hunger we are seeing,” Corinne Fleischer, WFP’s director for the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, said in a statement.
“We thank Abel for this valuable contribution towards the people of Palestine. We hope others will follow Abel’s example and support our efforts.”
The multi-platinum global recording artist was appointed a goodwill ambassador in October 2021.
Red Sea film fest celebrates ‘Women in Cinema’ with global stars
Updated 02 December 2023
JEDDAH: The Red Sea Film Festival and Vanity Fair Europe played host a celebration of “Women in Cinema” on Friday night, with celebrities from around in attendance at the soiree.
Bollywood star Katrina Kaif joined Hollywood actresses Sofia Vergara, Sharon Stone, Diane Kruger, Michelle Rodriguez and Zoe Saldana at the evening event while British supermodel Naomi Campbell also made an appearance.
From the Arab world, it was a glittering invitation list with Yasmine Sabri, Egyptian icon Yousra, Amina Khalil, Nadine Nassib Njeim, Andria Tayeh, Aseel Omran and Sarah Taibah attending, among many more regional stars.
“In collaboration with Vanity Fair Europe, and on the sidelines of the third edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival, we were pleased to host ‘Women in Cinema’ celebrating women’s cinematic contributions — where we honored Egyptian cinema icon Nabila Ebeid, acknowledging her rich cinematic career,” the festival posted on Instagram.
Born on Jan. 21, 1945, Ebeid has been dubbed “Egypt’s first star.” Ebeid is known as both an actress, with film and stage titles under her belt, and a producer.
The Red Sea International Film Festival runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9 and boasts 11 categories of films: Special Screenings; Red Sea: Competition; Red Sea: Shorts Competition; Festival Favorites; Arab Spectacular; International Spectacular; New Saudi/ New Cinema: Shorts; Red Sea: New Vision; Red Sea: Families and Children; Red Sea: Series and Red Sea: Treasures.
This year’s celebrity-studded festival jury is presided over by director Baz Luhrmann, joined by Swedish-American actor Joel Kinnaman (“Suicide Squad”); Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”); Egyptian actor Amina Khalil (“Grand Hotel”) and Spain’s Paz Vega (“Sex and Lucía,” “The OA”).
The festival kicked off with a gala screening of Dubai-based Iraqi director Yasir Al-Yasiri’s “HWJN,” which is based on a YA novel by Saudi writer Ibraheem Abbas. Set in modern-day Jeddah, “HWJN” follows the story of a kind-hearted jinn — an invisible entity in Islamic tradition — as he discovers the truth about his royal lineage.
Lebanese actress Njeim spoke to Arab News on the opening red carpet, saying: “The festival marks a turning point for every ambitious Saudi filmmaker, providing excellent support for young talents to showcase their work at international festivals.”
TORONTO: The documentary that won Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El-Moudir a best director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival will be screened at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.
“The Mother of All Lies” took the honors in the Un Certain Regard section, as well as winning the prestigious L’oeil d’Or prize for best documentary. The film explores El-Moudir’s personal journey, unraveling the mysteries of her family’s history against the backdrop of the 1981 bread riots in Casablanca.
El-Moudir, a regular on the international film festival circuit, spoke to Arab News about both the film and her desire to see Arab cinema attract more support.
“I think every filmmaker in the world dreams of having their film premiere in a big festival like Cannes or Sundance or the Berlinale or Venice,” she said.
“It wasn’t easy for me as a filmmaker, producer and editor to bring this film to the international level but with the support from the Red Sea Festival, the Arab Documentary Photography Program and Doha Film Institute, people from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, things became easier.”
Morocco has chosen “The Mother of All Lies” as its submission for the best international feature film category in the 96th Academy Awards, which will take place in March next year. With the official nominations yet to be announced, El-Moudir said: “This means a lot for me and for my characters, because I’m talking about a sensitive subject.
“I was also afraid to make this a subject to talk about because I was protecting my family, and I had no idea how we can talk about the past freely without hurting anyone, without looking for guilty people or denouncing anyone.”
El-Moudir’s decade-long journey in making “The Mother of All Lies” has taught her a valuable lesson — the importance of time in crafting meaningful stories.
“There is no rush to make films, especially when we are talking about real facts,” she said. “We should wait for the project. I made this film in 10 years. I was super tired and exhausted, but I don’t regret anything. If I had made this film five years ago, maybe nobody would have watched it. It needed maturity and took time to talk about how we can make a national story an intimate one.”
Discussing what she hoped the audience in Jeddah would take away from her film, El-Moudir emphasized the need for support within the Arab filmmaking community.
“I’m sure the audience in Saudi Arabia will identify themselves in this story. We have the same aspirations, we have the same vocations. I would tell the audience please come and discuss the films. Whether it’s Moroccan or Saudi Arabian, or Tunisian or Egyptian, Arab cinema needs support, and we should support each other.
“I hope people from Saudi Arabia will understand a lot of time has passed working on this film, and maybe younger generations of filmmakers will be happy to see we need time to make films. And we should not be afraid if ideas are not here today. In five years, they will be, and we will be everywhere.”