Israel to amend Eurovision entry over political lyrics

Israel to amend Eurovision entry over political lyrics
Eden Golan‘s entry contained references to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 March 2024
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Israel to amend Eurovision entry over political lyrics

Israel to amend Eurovision entry over political lyrics

DUBAI: Israel’s public broadcaster will request changes to the lyrics of a song under consideration for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, reversing its previous stance on the issue.

Eurovision barred the song last week for breaking rules on political neutrality in song lyrics. Artist Eden Golan‘s Israel entry, “October Rain,” contains references to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Israeli broadcaster Kan, which will determine which song enters Eurovision for the country, pledged last week that it wouldn’t request any alteration of the lyrics.

But Israel’s President Isaac Herzog today called for “necessary adjustments” to ensure Israel can enter the show.

The original lyrics of the song were published on Kan's website last month in English. 

They include the lines "They were all good children, every one of them" and "Who told you boys don't cry/ Hours and hours/ And flowers/ Life is not a game for the cowards."

The reference to flowers often denotes war fatalities, according to Israeli media. 

Kan is also considering a song called “Dance Forever.”

The 68th Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Malmo, Sweden, in May.


Emirati actress Meera AlMidfa reflects on Cannes and her first feature-length film, co-starring Saudi actor Fahad Al-Butairi

Emirati actress Meera AlMidfa reflects on Cannes and her first feature-length film, co-starring Saudi actor Fahad Al-Butairi
Updated 20 May 2024
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Emirati actress Meera AlMidfa reflects on Cannes and her first feature-length film, co-starring Saudi actor Fahad Al-Butairi

Emirati actress Meera AlMidfa reflects on Cannes and her first feature-length film, co-starring Saudi actor Fahad Al-Butairi

DUBAI: Emirati actress and filmmaker Meera AlMidfa has two short films screening on the sidelines of the ongoing Cannes Film Festival — “Shame” and “Umm Salama The Matchmaker”. 

Set to entertain audiences in the French Riviera, although the films are not playing on the official calendar of the film festival, each provides sharp insight and commentary on Arab womanhood, while approaching the subject from separate viewpoints and taking a different tone.

While in “Shame” AlMidfa plays a woman whose attempt to flee from home is abruptly halted when her mother catches her and leads to an intense confrontation, in “Umm Salama The Matchmaker,” she plays the daughter of a matchmaker trying to avoid getting hitched.

Meera AlMidfa (right) in “Umm Salama The Matchmaker”. (Supplied)

“The two films were made as part of Arab Film Studio workshop by Image Nation Abu Dhabi. And I was cast by the filmmakers who were doing the filmmaking course, both female directors. And they both explore similar issues about women and marriage,” AlMidfa said in an interview with Arab News.

However, AlMidfa is most excited about her first full-length feature, “Al Eid Eiden,” Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s Saudi-Emirati family comedy. “I play an Emirati woman married to a Saudi man,” said AlMidfa.

Starring opposite AlMidfa is Saudi actor Fahad Al-Butairi (“Telfaz11,” “The Office,” “From A to B”), with the film’s worldwide release planned for July 4.

Meera AlMidfa will soon star in her first full-length feature, “Al Eid Eiden,” Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s Saudi-Emirati family comedy. (Supplied)

The production brings together an all-female Emirati creative team featuring first feature director Maitha Alawadi, producer Rawia Abdullah and writer Sara Al-Sayegh.

The film’s logline reads, “‘Al Eid Eiden’ follows a Saudi-Emirati family as they make the final preparations for an Eid getaway in Abu Dhabi. An unexpected turn of events on their day of travel changes things drastically for the parents, but not wanting to disappoint their three young children, they decide to go ahead as planned.

“What ensues is a roller-coaster ride of comedic mishaps and misunderstandings as they hurtle through uncharted parenting territory, a theme park, and Eid gatherings with relatives. Through the chaos, they discover unity as a family.”

Having been an integral part of the theatre and acting scene for more than a decade in the UAE, AlMidfa — who has a master’s degree in film directing from the American Film Institute — is also interested in working behind the camera as much as she is performing in front of it.

“I would say acting comes more naturally to me. But the more I do production work, the more it sinks in as well. But it’s like a complete personality switch. So, you need to kind of figure out how to balance yourself when you switch from one to the other based on the project. So, I don’t mix them up too much — I don’t direct something and then act like back-to-back,” she said.


Review: Cannes title ‘Everybody Loves Touda’ is a sparkling example of Nabil Ayouch’s work

Review: Cannes title ‘Everybody Loves Touda’ is a sparkling example of Nabil Ayouch’s work
Updated 20 May 2024
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Review: Cannes title ‘Everybody Loves Touda’ is a sparkling example of Nabil Ayouch’s work

Review: Cannes title ‘Everybody Loves Touda’ is a sparkling example of Nabil Ayouch’s work

CANNES: Directed by Morocco’s Nabil Ayouch, Cannes Film Festival title “Everybody Loves Touda” is a compelling look at a single mother, Touda (an excellent Nisrin Erradi), who lives by the age-old dictum “never say die.”

Living in a small town, she is a bundle of music and mirth and her dances seem to bring cheer to her audience, but she soon faces unwanted attention.

The Cannes screening ended with a standing ovation, and Ayouch’s fourth outing at the festival seemed to garner far more audience appreciation than in earlier years. In 2012, his critically acclaimed drama “Horses of God” played in the Un Certain Regard section, which is second in importance to the main competition and is widely seen as a platform for experimental cinema. But Ayouch has also played in the In Competition section for the coveted Palme d’Or — his 2021 feature “Casablanca Beats,” the first title from Morocco since 1962 to vie for this honor, proved a sensation.

 Maryam Touzani and Nabil Ayouch attend the "Everybody Loves Touda" Photocall at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival. (Getty Images)

Like his other movies, Ayouch approaches “Everybody Loves Touda” with fascinating realism that at times may appear a little too harsh. Having written the script with Mayam Touzani (“The Blue Caftan”), Ayouch may have given us formulaic fare, but he infuses Touda with a kind of determination that is awesome. Striving to relocate to Casablanca, where her deaf son would have better schooling and she herself could find greater opportunities, Touda begins to sing in village nightclubs, bearing with a grin the lecherous gaze of men drunk with delusion.

This is not the first time that Ayouch puts women in such precarious positions. His 2008 “Whatever Lola Wants” talks about the trials of a postal worker in New York who dreams of becoming an Egyptian belly dancer, and “Much Loved” (which played at in the Director's Fortnight section) created a storm with its exploration of prostitution in Morocco.

Peppered with lively music (by Flemming Nordkrog), Touda croons folkloric songs on liberation and other forms of women’s rights. The actress’s gripping performance causes the narrative to sparkle —Erradi has a remarkable on-screen presence that makes the movie a joy to watch.


US comedian Jerry Seinfeld heckled by Pro-Palestinian supporter at standup show in Virginia

US comedian Jerry Seinfeld heckled by Pro-Palestinian supporter at standup show in Virginia
Updated 20 May 2024
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US comedian Jerry Seinfeld heckled by Pro-Palestinian supporter at standup show in Virginia

US comedian Jerry Seinfeld heckled by Pro-Palestinian supporter at standup show in Virginia

DUBAI: Pro-Palestine protests disrupted US comedian-actor Jerry Seinfeld’s Saturday night comedy set in Norfolk, Virginia, resulting in one protestor being escorted out of the venue.

Seinfeld has been vocal in his support for Israel following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack. The comedian also met with families of the hostages and visited a kibbutz during a trip to Israel in December.

In videos posted online, Seinfeld’s show can be seen being interrupted by a man who stood in the crowd and yelled toward the comedian that he was “a genocide supporter.”

Another video posted to Instagram shows the individual yelling, “Save the children of Gaza,” “No more American tax dollars for genocide” and “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Seinfeld responded to the heckler, later joking, “This is exciting. I like this.”

Last week, several students walked out of Duke University’s commencement ceremony to protest Seinfeld speaking at the event.


‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes

‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes
Updated 19 May 2024
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‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes

‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes

DUBAI: Sudanese first-time director Mohamed Kordofani’s “Goodbye Julia” won the best feature film and best screenplay awards at the eighth Critics Awards for Arab Films that took place on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

French-Tunisian composer Amin Bouhafa, who worked on “Hajjan,” won the best music award for the Saudi Arabia-based film. 

Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s hybrid docudrama “Four Daughters,” which missed out on the Best Documentary win at this year’s Academy Awards, scored three prizes: Best director for Ben Hania, best documentary and best editing.

Amjad Al-Rasheed’s “Inshallah a Boy” picked up the best actress prize for Palestinian star Mouna Hawa and best cinematography for Kanamé Onoyama.

Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri nabbed the best actor prize for his role in “The Teacher” while Egyptian filmmaker Morad Mostafa’s “I Promise You Paradise” came out on top in the best short film category.

The awards ceremony is organized by the Cairo-based Arab Cinema Centre (ACC) and winners are voted on by 225 critics from more than 70 countries.  


Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes

Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes
Updated 19 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes

Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes
  • Rosie Huntington Whitley, Richard Gere, Minnie Driver, Alexa Chung, Uma Thurman and Eiza González attended the event, among other international celebrities

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) hosted the “Women in Cinema” Gala in partnership with Vanity Fair Europe in Cannes on Saturday, attracting celebrities from across the world.

Richard Gere poses with Mohammed Al-Turki. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

The glitzy gala dinner took place after RSIFF presented the “Women in Cinema” panel discussion during the Variety Global Conversations event earlier in the day.

The panel featured Egyptian actress and model Salma Abu Deif, Indian actress Kiara Advani,  Thai actress, model and singer Sarocha Chankimha (also known as Freen), Saudi actress Adhwa Fahad, Saudi singer and actress Aseel Omran, and French-Senegalese director Ramata Toulaye-Sy. The talents spoke about their early beginnings, their career breakthroughs and their sources of inspiration during the panel talk.

Aseel Omran pictured at the event. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

Those stars and many more attended the evening’s festivities at the iconic Hotel Du Cap.

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” actress Eiza González, model Ikram Abdi, supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Dorra Zarrouk were among the star-studded guest list.

Rosie Huntington Whitley, Richard Gere, Minnie Driver, Raya Abirashed, Alexa Chung, Wallis Day, Lucas Bravo and Uma Thurman also attended the event. 

Yousra attended the event in Cannes. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

“The Red Sea International Film Festival (#RedSeaIFF) and Vanity Fair Europe reunited to host the #WomenInCinema Gala, championing the achievements of rising female talent on both sides of the camera who are reshaping the film industry in Saudi Arabia, Africa, Asia and the Arab world,” the Red Sea Film Foundation posted on Instagram.

Saudi Arabia is playing a key role at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, having supported four projects that are screening at the event.

Eva Longoria and Eiza González snap a selfie. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

“Norah,” “The Brink of Dreams,” “To A Land Unknown” and “Animale” will screen as part of the Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight and Critic’s Week programs at Cannes. The Red Sea Film Foundation supported the projects through the Red Sea Fund and the Red Sea Souk.

RSIFF CEO Mohammed Al-Turki has been spotted on multiple red carpets throughout the event so far and walked the opening night’s red carpet alongside Jomana Al-Rashid, CEO of the Saudi Research and Media Group.