‘Arab cinema needs support,’ says Cannes prize winner Asmae El-Moudir ahead of RSIFF debut

‘Arab cinema needs support,’ says Cannes prize winner Asmae El-Moudir ahead of RSIFF debut
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. (AFP)
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Updated 02 December 2023
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‘Arab cinema needs support,’ says Cannes prize winner Asmae El-Moudir ahead of RSIFF debut

‘Arab cinema needs support,’ says Cannes prize winner Asmae El-Moudir ahead of RSIFF debut

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.”




The film poster for 'The Mother of All Lies.' (Supplied)

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.”


Celebrity-loved Atelier Zuhra presents new collection in London

Celebrity-loved Atelier Zuhra presents new collection in London
Updated 21 February 2024
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Celebrity-loved Atelier Zuhra presents new collection in London

Celebrity-loved Atelier Zuhra presents new collection in London
  • The Omani label has dressed a number of international celebrities, including Beyonce, Mariah Carey, and Paris Hilton

DUBAI: Omani label Atelier Zuhra showcased its Fall/Winter 2024 collection in London this week, delivering a showcase of glamour and style. 

Designer Rayan Al-Sulaimani, who is based in Dubai, put on a show for guests gathered at Cafe Royal in London with a runway showcasing glittering evening gowns infused with a hefty dose of drama. Voluminous capes, satin hoods, and feathered ensembles took center stage. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by FARHANA (@farhanabodi)

 

The color palette was varied and ranged from light hues — such as white, pink, silver and beige — to deeper tones like navy blue, emerald green, maroon and black. 

The designs stood out for the incorporation of crystals, intricate pearl work, beading, feathers, and luxurious fabrics. These elements reflected the opulence of the chandelier-filled hall where the runway presentation unfolded.

Voluminous capes, satin hoods, and feathered ensembles took center stage. (Getty Images)

The dresses were crafted from a variety of fabrics including tulle, satin, chiffon, velvet and organza. 

Netflix’s “Dubai Bling” star Farhana Bodi walked the runway. She graced the catwalk in a metallic pink form-fitting gown complemented by a satin hood trailing from the shoulders of the dress.

She shared the clip of her walking the runway on Instagram and wrote: “Your SHOWSTOPPER Bling Girl at the London Fashion Week (sic).” 

Chanel Ayan wore a black sequined gown featuring a halter neckline. (Getty Images)

She was also joined by “The Real Housewives of Dubai” star Chanel Ayan, who was dressed in a black sequined gown featuring a halter neckline. Completing her ensemble was a pink satin abaya-inspired coverup. 

Atelier Zuhra CEO and head designer Al-Sulaimani’s mother Mouza Al-Awfi founded the couture house in Dubai in 2015.  

“My ambition for the future is for the brand to be well recognized internationally. Over the next five years I hope to have Atelier Zuhra established in Europe – either in London or Paris,” Al-Sulaimani previously told Arab News.

The Omani label has dressed a number of international celebrities. US superstar Beyonce, US music sensation Mariah Carey, US socialite Paris Hilton, US singer Nicole Scherzinger, British supermodel Naomi Campbell and Saudi star Dalia Mubarak, who is signed with US record label Warner Recorded Music, have all been spotted in the brand’s creations.  


Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn

Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn
Updated 20 February 2024
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Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn

Review: Jeremy Paxman’s ‘A Life in Questions’ is a humorous take on a media icon’s life with lessons to learn

RIYADH: In his 2016 memoir, “A Life in Questions,” Jeremy Paxman, the prominent British journalist and presenter, outlines how he has been inquisitive his entire life.

The autobiography uncovers Paxman’s early years, interviews with prominent figures, insights into journalistic integrity, political engagement, and the power of asking the right questions.

Paxman takes a humorous approach in recounting past experiences, notably an incident involving Marks & Spencer underwear. He described an occasion when he put his leg through his briefs, causing the elastic to detach from the cotton.

Paxman asked the other people in the gym: “Any of you blokes had any trouble with pants?" His concerns about the quality sparked a media frenzy, resulting in an abundance of underwear being sent to him, even from strangers.

The book showcases Paxman’s recollections over four decades of journalism. However, when considering his interviews, I hoped for more insights into his technique and style. Renowned for his unconventional approach, his interviews often left interviewees feeling unsettled or nervous, as if they were “quaking in their boots.”

At times, the narrative becomes monotonous, particularly in sections where Paxman delves into less compelling aspects of his career, making the reading experience somewhat laborious.

However, Paxman’s recounting of iconic interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes kept me from looking away. A notable interview showing his commitment to getting answers, which was widely praised, took place in May 1997, where Paxman questioned former Home Secretary Michael Howard a total of 12 times about his potential overruling of the head of the Prison Service, Derek Lewis.

The writing style can feel a bit disconnected, shifting between different times in Paxman’s life with abrupt transitions. This might make it a little harder to follow his story. Paxman’s memoir might be more relatable to those familiar with the UK’s political and cultural scene, as it assumes a certain level of knowledge about the figures and events discussed.

Learning from Paxman’s methods can help journalists develop their own style and ensure that they can engage with and extract valuable information from interviewees.

Overall, “A Life in Questions” is recommended for those fascinated by unconventional interviewing styles. It not only tells stories but also acts as a guide for journalists seeking to enhance their interviewing skills.


Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot

Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot
Updated 20 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot

Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla to add music studio to production lot

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla is adding a music recording studio to its production lot in June.

Film AlUla’s current production facility includes a 30,000-square-foot soundstage, backlot, production support buildings, workshops, warehouses, recording studio and training and rehearsal space.

AlUla is also home to the mirrored Maraya concert hall, a multi-purpose venue that plays host to international concerts.

The film commission will inaugurate a recording studio with audio and recording equipment comprising a control room and two soundproof booths that can be used by individual artists, choirs, rehearsals for film score production, music videos and orchestral work, Variety magazine reported.

Film AlUla’s Executive Director Charlene Deleon-Jones commented on the upcoming opening, saying: “Following the successful launch of our film studios last year, we are continuing to strategically expand the complex and become a one-stop destination for creatives, with the recording studio being a natural next step in this vision.

“We are delighted to welcome artists starting from June whom we have no doubt will be inspired by the magnificent surroundings and heritage that AlUla has to offer while making the most of our cutting-edge facilities to create magic,” she added, according to Variety magazine.

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 news comes after December’s Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah saw global media company Stampede Ventures announce further films in its 10-movie partnership with Film AlUla.

Hollywood movies “Fourth Wall” and “Chasing Red” are set to be filmed in AlUla in 2024 as part of a 10-project deal between Film AlUla and Stampede Ventures, in addition to the previously announced feature “K-Pops!”

There will be emphasis on using Saudi talent during the production process, Deleon-Jones told Arab News at the time, 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.”


First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 

First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 
Updated 20 February 2024
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First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 

First film announced as Saudi Arabia launches Big Time Investment to fund Arab productions 

DUBAI: Egyptian actress Mona Zaki is set to star in a film portraying the life of legendary singer Umm Kulthum, which is the first film in a slate of productions as Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority announced the launch of a film fund named Big Time Investment, aimed at fostering the production of Arabic cinema.

The inaugural project under this initiative will be a biopic celebrating the life of Egyptian legend Umm Kulthum, who was referred to as “The fourth pyramid” by Arabs, as well as “The star of the East,” “Mother of the Arabs” and “Lady of Arabic Song.” 

Egyptian filmmaker Marwan Hamed has been tapped to direct the film titled “El Set,” with acclaimed Egyptian actress Mona Zaki set to portray Umm Kulthum.

The announcement regarding the fund took place in Cairo, where Turki Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the GEA, disclosed that the authority would serve as the main sponsor of the approximately $130 million fund. 

The Ministry of Culture will act as a co-sponsor, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency. Several  Saudi companies will also contribute to the fund, including Sela Studio, SMC Company, Rotana Audio Visual Co., and Benchmark Company.

The fund aims to germinate roughly 20 Arabic titles a year.


Model Nora Attal shows off winter fashion on the Burberry runway

Model Nora Attal shows off winter fashion on the Burberry runway
Updated 20 February 2024
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Model Nora Attal shows off winter fashion on the Burberry runway

Model Nora Attal shows off winter fashion on the Burberry runway

DUBAI: British Moroccan model Nora Attal made an appearance at London Fashion Week, after hitting the runway in Paris and New York in recent weeks.

Attal walked in British luxury label Burberry’s Fall/Winter 2024 show.

The fashion house’s creative director Daniel Lee this week showed his third brief at London Fashion Week, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, with an ode to the brand’s outdoor heritage.

The 24-year-old model strutted down the star-studded catwalk in a cream-colored calf-length coat. (Getty Images)

Set in a dark marquee in London’s Victoria Park where guests sat on big fluffy brown cushions, songs from late British singer Amy Winehouse set the mood for the night.

The 24-year-old model strutted down the star-studded catwalk in a cream-colored calf-length coat, accentuated with luxurious fur-like detailing on the knees, arms and neckline.

Attal hit the grass runway in an ensemble that was accented with black chunky-soled leather boots and a matching clutch.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Burberry (@burberry)

Other models paraded leather and faux-fur coats in shades of muted green and brown, oversized stripy suit jackets and trousers with zipper detailing.

The show heavily featured outerwear and sporty silhouettes with bomber jackets and Burberry’s iconic trench coat that sat alongside flowy beaded and velvet dresses.

Burberry’s famous beige, black and red check was reimagined into a moody autumnal color palette and featured on the inside of floor-sweeping skirts with long slits down the side.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Burberry (@burberry)

Accessories included checked umbrellas, large canvas, leather and faux-fur bags in cream, brown and green — often adorned with gold detailing — and paired with scarves worn over the head.

British models Naomi Campbell, Agyness Deyn and Lily Cole were among those sashaying on the catwalk.

Saudi film producer and CEO of the Red Sea Film Foundation Mohammed Al-Turki attended the show. (Getty Images)

The show was attended by Saudi film producer and CEO of the Red Sea Film Foundation Mohammed Al-Turki, actress Olivia Coleman, model Jourdan Dunn and Irish actor Barry Keoghan among others.

This is not the first time Attal has modelled for Burberry. In September 2023, she wore low-waist tailored pants, a cropped printed blouse and a blazer with fur detailing around the sleeves from the brand’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection that was also showcased at London Fashion Week.  

Earlier this year, Attal walked the Chanel and Fendi shows during Paris Haute Couture Week.