Black power, suffering and the fight for justice took center stage at the BET awards on Sunday, the first Black celebrity event in the United States since nationwide mass protests broke out this month over systemic racism. The show, which celebrates Black excellence in music, film, sports and philanthropy, was filled with speeches, songs, images of protests and the names of dozens of Black men and women who have died at the hands of police in recent years. Beyonce, who was given a humanitarian award by former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama for her charitable initiatives, urged the Black community to use its vote in upcoming U.S. elections to dismantle "racist and unequal systems." "We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does," the singer said. The awards show, broadcast live for the first time in its 20-year history on America s mainstream CBS channel, featured commercials from the likes of Coca-Cola, Ford, Nissan, P&G, L Oreal and Facebook that both celebrated the achievements of Black people and highlighted the challenges they face. A remixed version of veteran New York rap group Public Enemy s 1989 anthem "Fight the Power," featuring photos of this month s street protests, opened the show, whose slogan was "Our culture can t be canceled." Da Baby s performance of "Rockstar" began with the rapper singing while lying on the ground under the knee of a police officer, in a recreation of last month s arrest and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that sparked the protests. Newcomer Roddy Ricch (eds correct) wore a "Black Lives Matter" shirt, John Legend played his ballad, "We Will Never Break," and Alicia Keys sang an emotional new song, "Perfect Way to Die," about the black lives lost over the decades. The show was a mix of pre-recorded performances and virtual appearances because of the coronavirus pandemic that shut down production of television shows in mid-March. Awards went to Ricch s "Please Excuse Me for Being Anti-Social," which won album of the year, Megan Thee Stallion for best female hip-hop artist and Lizzo was named best female R&B/pop artist. Gymnast Simone Biles and basketball star LeBron James were named sportswoman and man of the year respectively. Nigerian musician Burna Boy was named best international act.
Tunisian-Egyptian actress Hend Sabry won the Best Actress at 4th Annual Critics Awards for Arab Films at the Cannes Film Festival held this year virtually. Sabry s award comes for her role in the Tunisian film Noura’s Dream (Noura Rêve, 2019), directed by Hinde Boujemaa who also wrote the script together with Laurent Brandenbourger. Noura s Dream revolves around the hardworking protagonist, Noura, who tries to tap her unshakable will to fulfill her dream while striving against many challenges, her abusive husband in jail and a coveted divorce pending. The award at Annual Critics Awards for Arab Films is Sabry s third win for the role. She has been also awarded Best Actress for Noura s Dream at the Carthage Film Festival (2019) and El Gouna Film Festival (2019) Also competing for the Annual Critics Awards for Arab Films were Lubna Azabal and Nissrine Erradi, both for their performance in the film Adam (Morocco). The nominees are chosen by over 140 Arab and international film critics from 57 countries. Organised by the Arab Cinema Centre (ACC), the winners of the Annual Critics Awards are usually announced during a ceremony held on the sidelines of the Cannes International Film Festival. With this year s Cannes festival cancelled, the winner was revealed during an online Marche du Film (Virtual Cannes Market) held between 22 and 26 June. The Arab Cinema Centre was founded in 2015 with an aim to provide the Arab filmmaking industry with a professional window to connect with counterparts from all over the world through a number of events that it organises. The ACC s activities vary between film markets, stands, and pavilions, networking sessions and one-on-one meetings bringing together Arab and foreign filmmakers, welcome parties, as well as meetings with international organisations and festivals, and issuing the Arab Cinema Magazine, to be distributed at leading international film festivals and markets. In 2017, the ACC launched the Annual Critics Awards on the margins of the Cannes International Film Festival, co-organised with MAD Solutions. Sabry’s career began in 1994 at the age of 14 when she debuted in the Tunisian production Silence of the Palaces (Samt Al-Qosoor) by director Moufida Tlatli. Her first appearance in Egyptian cinema was in the 2002 production A Teenager s Diary (Muzakirat Murahiqua), a role that paved her way to stardom. Her later roles include starring in films such as A Citizen, a Detective, and a Thief (Mowaten we Mokhber we Haramy) in 2002, Downtown Girls (Banat West El-Balad) in 2005, and Ibrahim El-Abyad in 2009. She also appeared in The Yacoubian Building (Oumaret Yacoubian, 2006), alongside an extensive cast of Egypt s biggest stars. Her portrayal of an HIV positive woman in Asmaa (2011) brought her several awards. Sabry s more recent roles include films such as The Parrot (short, 2016), Life is Beautiful (2017), The Treasure (2017), The Passage (2017), Noura s Dream (2019), The Blue Elephant (2019) Apart from her many achievements in cinema, Sabry is active in social and humanitarian work. She has been working closely with the UN World Food Programme on raising awareness about hunger in the region since 2010.
Egypt s Ministry of Culture is preparing to resume cultural activities starting July 15, or possibly before that date, Minister of Culture Enas Abdel Dayem announced on Wednesday. The ministry, Abdel Dayem said, has set up two open-air theaters to allow events to resume while maintaining social distancing precautions, but plans to keep Cairo Opera House s main hall closed until further notice. During a phone interview with the television program “Al-Hayat Al-Youm,” Abdel Dayem said that the two theaters are located in the Cairo Opera House complex and al-Hanager Theater Square. The theaters will host daily performances and ceremonies at a capacity of 25 percent, she added. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced in a press conference on Tuesday that new precautionary measures will be implemented starting June 27. These measures include reopening restaurants and cafes at 25 percent customer capacity, a first step toward a gradual reopening. Shisha smoking, however, will remain banned. Hotels will be reopened at 50 percent occupancy rates. Shops and commercial malls will close at 9 pm while restaurants and cafes will close at 10 pm. Public parks and beaches will remain closed for the time being. Mass transportation will operate from 9 am to midnight. Houses of worship will reopen for daily rituals, with precautionary measures such as closing toilets and affiliated events halls, but weekly collective rituals such as Friday mosque prayers and Sunday church prayers will remain suspended. Clubs, youth centers, cultural facilities and cinemas will also be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity.
A partnership between Egypt s Ministry of Culture, headed by Enas Abdel Dayem, and the Cairo Opera House, headed by Magdy Saber, will present a series of star-studded concerts throughout July, on a new stage constructed in the Opera Square. Ninety percent of the stage was constructed over the past few days, and is just awaiting the installation of its lighting system. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, concerts will at first be held without an audience, despite the fact that the new outdoor theater can accommodate approximately 1,000 seats, while still adhering to the spacing between seats. The theater is nearly 70 meters wide. The Opera House has been taking measures to ensure the safe resumption of cultural events, including purchasing seven disinfection corridors, as well as infrared thermometers for all theaters in Cairo, Alexandria and Damanhour. A schedule for the concert series has already been prepared, and after being approved by Abdel Dayem, it will be sent to the prime minister for his approval. Bands and singers on the list include Mohamed Mounir, Sherine Abdel Wahab, Mostafa Haggag, Mohamed Hamaki, Medhat Saleh, Ali al-Haggar, Hisham Abbas, Dina al-Wedidi, Massar Egbari, Wust El-Balad, Black Theama, and Marimba player Nessma Abdelaziz. Eight concerts are planned per month, a number that may increae to include two or three concerts per week. The concerts will be limited to the Cairo Opera House and so far there is no plan to hold concerts elsewhere. The Opera House management has also offered the new theater for rent to bands and singers wanting to record concerts that will later be displayed on their own social media channels. It has also carried out construction work on the open theater, with the aim of enlarging its area to maintain social distancing between the musicians on the stage. For his part, Egyptian singer Mohamed Mounir said that the aim of the concerts is to delight the Egyptian people. He emphasized that art is an effective way to express thoughts and feelings and carry out purposeful messages, in addition to promoting a sense of belonging to homeland and loyalty.
Joel Schumacher, the eclectic and brazen filmmaker who dressed New York department store windows before shepherding the Brat Pack to the big screen in "St. Elmo s Fire and steering the Batman franchise into its most baroque territory in "Batman Forever and "Batman & Robin, has died. He was 80. A representative for Schumacher said the filmmaker died Monday in New York after a yearlong battle with cancer. A native New Yorker, Schumacher was first a sensation in the fashion world after attending Parsons School of Design and decorating Henri Bendel s windows. His entry to film came first as a costume designer. Schumacher dressed a pair of Woody Allen movies in the 1970s: "Interiors and "Sleeper. He also penned the screenplays to a pair of musicals: "The Wiz" and "Sparkle." As a director, he established himself as a filmmaker of great flair, if not often good reviews, in a string of mainstream films in the `80s and 90s. To the frequent frustration of critics but the delight of audiences, Schumacher favored entertainment over tastefulness _ including those infamous sensual Batman and Robin suits with visible nipples _ and he did so proudly. "A movie that s in a movie theater that runs at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 and there s no one in the audience when that movie runs _ what s the point?" Schumacher once told Charlie Rose. The success of his first hit, "St. Elmo s Fire," with Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy not only helped make a name for the Brat Pack but made Schumacher in-demand in Hollywood. He followed it up with 1987 s "The Lost Boys," with Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman. A vampire horror comedy, it gave a darker, contemporary view of the perpetual adolescence of "Peter Pan. Schumacher was sometimes regretful that he played a role in hoisting fame on his young stars and "the two Coreys. Before dying in 2010, Haim struggled with drug addiction and said he was sexually assaulted in the film industry. Feldman on Monday recounted on Twitter trying cocaine during "The Lost Boys as a 16-year-old. When Schumacher found out, Feldman said, Schumacher temporarily fired him. "He tried to prevent my descent, said Feldman, who continued to struggle with drugs. Schumacher then made "Flatliners, about morbidly obsessed medical students, and a pair of John Grisham adaptations in "The Client and "A Time to Kill. "Falling Down, with Michael Douglas as a Los Angeles man whose anger from minute every-day interactions steadily builds in violence, was maybe his most critically acclaimed film, though its depictions of minorities _ particularly a Korean grocer _ were from the start hotly debated. On its 25th anniversary, April Wolfe of LA Weekly wrote that it "remains one of Hollywood s most overt yet morally complex depictions of the modern white-victimization narrative, one both adored and reviled by the extreme right." The slickness of those productions helped Schumacher inherit the DC universe from Tim Burton. In Schumacher s hands, Batman received a garish overhaul that resulted in two of the the franchise s most cartoonish movies in 1995 s "Batman Forever and 1997 s "Batman & Robin. The first was a box-office smash but the second fizzled and remains most often remembered for its infamous suits. "It was like I had murdered a baby, Schumacher told Vice of the response to Batman & Robin." Yet it, too, has developed a small cult following for those who prefer the antithesis of Christopher Nolan s more grim Batman movies. "He saw deeper things in me than most and he lived a wonderfully creative and heroic life, said Jim Carrey, who played the Riddler in "Batman Forever. "I am grateful to have had him as a friend." Schumacher, born on Aug. 29, 1939, to Francis and Marian Schumacher, was raised in Queens by his mother after his father died when he was four-years-old. As a youngster, he quickly became enmeshed in the city s nightlife. "The street was my education, Schumacher told Vulture earlier this year. "You could ride your bike over the 59th Street Bridge then. So I rode my bike everywhere. I was in Manhattan all the time and all over Queens. If you re a kid on a bike, anything can happen, and predators come out of the woodwork, my God. I looked very innocent, but I wasn t. Schumacher would often say he was fortunate to have survived the `60s at all. He made habits of liquid Methadrine, acid and sex. Out long before many in Hollywood, Schumacher pegged his lovers in "the double-digit thousands. He was a warm and gossipy raconteur though Schumacher said he "never kissed and told about anybody who gives me the favor of sharing a bed with me. "I don t not like talking about it, I just don t believe it matters," Schumacher said of his sexuality in a 2000 interview with the Guardian. "I ve lived my life very openly. I started drinking at nine. I started doing drugs in my early teens. I started smoking at 10 and I started sex at 11. So I m not hiding anything. But I am totally and completely against labels. After "Batman and Robin," Schumacher turned to lower-budget thrillers: "8mm, with Nicolas Cage; "Flawless, with Robert De Niro; "Phone Booth, with Colin Farrell. Schumacher, behind the beginnings of so many careers, gave Farrell his first led role in 2000 s "Tigerland. In 2004, he took on Andrew Lloyd Webber s "Phantom of the Opera," a late, gaudy flourish that combined Schumacher with perhaps his Broadway equivalent in the spectacle-making Webber. Most recently, he directed two episodes of Netflix s "House of Cards in 2013. In his last interview, with Vulture, Schumacher reflected on a show at London s National Gallery of the now highly regarded works of James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. "They did a brilliant thing. Right next to them on the wall, framed right next to the paintings, were all their horrible reviews, said Schumacher. "Who remembers these reviews?
International music and film stars will headline a globally televised and streamed fundraising concert on Saturday to help fight COVID-19 as part of a joint initiative by the advocacy group Global Citizen and the European Commission. The initiative, called "Global Goal: Unite For Our Future," is aiming to raise billions of dollars in private and public donations to help lessen the impact of the pandemic on marginalised communities. Speaking at an online panel ahead of the event, pop star Miley Cyrus said the pandemic was hitting the world s poor and marginalised people the hardest. She urged donors committing funds for tests, treatments and vaccines to ensure they are developed in ways that everyone everywhere has access to them. Researchers and drugmakers across the globe are working on more than 100 potential vaccines against COVID-19, which has so far killed more than 463,000 people. Hosted by actor Dwayne The Rock Johnson, the virtual concert will feature Cyrus, Chloe x Halle, Christine and the Queens, Coldplay and Shakira and others, and include actors Charlize Theron and Hugh Jackman as well as retired soccer star David Beckham. "We need our world leaders to commit the billions of dollars needed to develop and equitably deliver testing, treatments and vaccines,” said Hugh Evans, Global Citizen s chief executive. European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said the concert would coincide with a pledging summit, at which artists, scientists and world leaders will "commit to helping the world end coronavirus, while leaving no one behind." The EU is increasingly taking a role as a champion of global cooperation in efforts to control and end the pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus, while the United States and China are focused more on national initiatives
In an exclusive interview with Ahram Online, Egypt’s culture minister Ines Abdel-Dayem discussed the current situation of Egypt’s cultural scene which remains on standstill since the 9 March announcement of Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly putting off all large gatherings. By the middle of the fourth month of the general cultural shutdown, thousands of Egyptian artists are finding it difficult to make ends meet as their income is closely linked to popular attendance of cultural events and the dynamism of the scene in general. “The situation is extremely difficult for everyone, artists, technical crews, the whole cultural infrastructure,” Ines Abdel-Dayem comments to Ahram Online. She continues: “Though some artists are on the payrolls of cultural institutions and have their basic salaries secured, we all know that they cannot depend on them only. They generate numerous extras each month, whether inside their institutions or outside them, and this income is completely frozen now. On the other hand, there are thousands more who do not even have basic salaries and operate in a completely independent manner.” Abdel-Dayem went on to underscore that the ministry is making great efforts to open work opportunities for artists. She pointed to the ‘Culture Between Your Hands’ online initiative launched in March on YouTube with the aim of bringing cultural activities to audiences at home. “On the one hand the initiative brought arts to people’s homes and has created much needed documentation of the cultural wealth that Egypt has in its reservoir. On the other hand, in recent weeks, the same online channel began creating work opportunities for artists.” Abdel-Dayem referenced projects such as Laugh, Think, Know, a new series of plays inspired by short stories penned by famed Russian playwright Anton Chekhov and posted on YouTube. “Such initiatives help a lot of artists, not only actors, but also the whole technical team that is behind those productions and video recordings. They all receive compensation.” “We will initiate more opportunities for a variety of art fields, including musical performances and literary forums, in the coming weeks,” Abdel-Dayem assured. Meanwhile, Abdel-Dayem is also preparing to launch open-air venues, which operations will largely depend on the government’s decisions related to the potential gradual reopening of cultural activities. Unable to provide any specific dates, Abdel-Dayem revealed that she wants to be ready with open-air stages as soon as possible. “We are working on three open-air stages at the Cairo Opera grounds. One will be in front of the Hanager Theatre, one in the large open area near the fountain and entry to the Opera’s Small Hall, in addition to enlarging of the already existing open air-theatre inside the Opera building. They will serve for music and theatre performances. I expect the stages to be operational in the first week of July.” The open-air theatres can operate on two levels: they can serve as venues for live-streamed or pre-recorded performances without an audience, or can welcome audiences who in number will be reduced at least in the first weeks of operations, all depending on directives from the cabinet.“At this stage the most important task for me is to continue with activities and open up opportunities for all artists, whether on the ministry’s payrolls or independent. It is hard to talk in parameters of a new season; we need to erase this concept from our minds, at least for the time being. What we should do is to keep the activities going. The season is ongoing. On the other hand, we need to bring some valuable and not necessarily heavy repertoire to the public. People are exhausted and we need to lift their spirits. This is where so many interesting artists from a variety of fields can step in, whether those linked to the ministry or independent,” Abdel-Dayem said, giving the example of the Summer Festival which each year hosted scores of Opera artists as well as independent musicians. She also added that there is a whole repertoire of Egypt’s theatre and music that has not been documented well. “We might re-stage and film those performances. We have some older videos, but usually they were not shot with a purpose for online screening.” And while the audience will gain access to well presented material, artists will continue working. Season is ongoing: challenging cultural habits Among the annual activities organised by the culture ministry is the Citadel Festival for Music and Singing taking place in July and August. Since its launch in 1989, the highly popular festival brought crowds to open-air venues located at the historic Salah El-Din Citadel area, presenting several performances per evening while providing a stage for hundreds of musicians. “This year, the festival’s 29th edition will not take place,” Abdel-Dayem said without hesitating. She takes a moment and continues with clarification: “It is very hard to hold this festival and assure health safety of the attendees. The festival is an audience magnet; many generations attend it, children run between the seats or simply join their families gathered on the lawn while listening to music or just chatting. While this unique atmosphere is part of the festival’s success, the very same spirit makes it impossible to impose physical distancing or assure that all precautionary measures are respected.”Meanwhile, a number of other festivals have been postponed. The first preys of the pandemic were the inaugural Eazees International Women s Theatre Festival (23-29 March) and 5th Sharm El-Sheikh International Theatre Festival for Youth (1-7 April), followed by many others including the new Alexandria Francophone Film Festival whose inaugural edition was set for 12-17 June. The situation is also challenging for other festivals scheduled to take place in the coming weeks or months, such as the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre, planned for the first days of September, but whose destiny is not clear, Abdel-Dayem revealed. She commented that her strategy with any festival is to establish a Plan A, B, and C. “We might have an option of holding the festival as is (especially those with dates further in the future), or we can modify it and shift to an online format. The third option is postponement.” Abdel-Dayem pointed out that, “Some festivals lose their charm, purpose or strength when moved online. Hence we might think about modifying some, while postponing others. We might also need to reassess the festivals’ agenda and their distribution throughout the year,” pointing to the international scene in which many events opted to reschedule or at least modify their plans. Abdel-Dayem is already considering moving the International Festival for University Theatre, headed by Khaled Galal, Egyptian theatre director and head of the Cultural Production Affairs Sector, online. The preliminary preparations for this festival took place at the end of 2019, but the launch was delayed and then interrupted by the pandemic. However, when discussing upcoming plans, Abdel-Dayem reiterates that holding events online or in open-air theatres (and with reduced audiences) tops her priorities as this would help artists generate income. She avoided stressing terms such as ‘festival’ or ‘season’, so as not to create boundaries that might conflict with the concept of an ongoing flow of events, or might be interrupted should the pandemic situation suddenly worsen. “In the difficult months we are in, it is important that we remain positive and cooperate. Let’s forget about boxes, old habits and bureaucracy. We need to adapt ourselves to the circumstances and do whatever is needed for the activities to see the light.” Abdel-Dayem explained that this is not the time to insist on a specific number of performances, whether in theatre or music, but rather to focus on how to fuse cultural dynamism into the present reality. As such, she might, for instance, challenge troupes used to staging one production dozens of times, or with a certain degree of grandiosity. She also points to the audience, saying “we cannot guarantee attendance for all those nights or all formats we are used to. Even if we return to activities in open-air venues and assure all precautionary measures, it is expected that in the first weeks the audience might be very hesitant in attending anything. We have to be realistic, monitor the situation and act accordingly. We have a budget we can utilise, but I also need to distribute it wisely. To me, it is important that we continue working and hopefully expanding activities as much as the general situation of the pandemic allows.” With open-air theatres about to launch, Abdel-Dayem wants to make sure that all operations are put in place in Cairo before moving to other governorates. She clarifies that the Mohamed Abdelwahab Theatre in Alexandria, which was renovated and reopened in September 2018, is another location that the ministry is eyeing for potential open-air events. “The ministry’s team needs to thoroughly check on the venue. Let me finish with Cairo, and Alexandria will follow straight away.” Other governorates will have to wait for the time being. “I am sure that once we kick off with open-air venues, the wheel will start turning better. We will see a flow of new ideas and hopefully more opportunities opening up for artists,” Abdel-Dayem concluded.
Hisham Kharma, the Egyptian composer of the soundtrack of The End television series which aired during Ramadan, met the winners of a contest in which music producers and remixers were invited to create a remix of the series theme music. The first prize winner is a creative duo 7aviators (Ahmed Hassan and Amr Abdelrahman); second prize was awarded to Mostafa Ghazal and third prize to Moaz Abdulnabi. Their wins come as a combination of public voting and a panel of judges that alongside Kharma included also music producers Sary Hany and Sherif Mostafa, and DJs Ahmed Eid and Mohamed Mohasseb. The contest was announced mid-May with music creatives invited to submit their works between 19 and 28 May."We received over 130 remixes, many of which were great! And on a personal level, I was surprised and super happy seeing this number of exceptionally talented producers. Keep going!" Kharma wrote upon the close of submissions. The most coherent tracks were then chosen by the panel of judges and posted online for public voting held between 29 May and 2 June. The panel then chose the winners from the tracks that gained the best public response. With the announcement of the winners, Kharma commented: “Congratulations to 7aviators for their groovy Oriental deep house remix; Mostafa Ghazal for his remarkable fusion remix; and Moaz Abdulnabi for his electronically cool production." The winners were announced 8 June and the distribution of awards took place earlier this week. Listen to the winning tracks below:The contest was held in cooperaion with Synergy, Gamma Music and Alfanny. Born and raised in Cairo, Egyptian composer, music producer and creative director Hisham Kharma lived in Miami, Hamburg and Dubai, where he has gained a multicultural experience in music and arts at large. He has released a few albums in which he mostly fuses ethnic, electronic sounds with lounge and funk. His albums include First Voyage, released by Virgin Megastore and Hybrid records; Arabesque by Sony Music in which he cooperated with Grammy-award winner Yanni and Can Atilla; and Al YaQeen. Recently Kharma has also embarked on live concerts attracting large scores of listeners to his electronic / funk performances. He has composed a soundtrack to the highly popular television series The End (Al Nehaya) which aired during last Ramadan. Directed by Yasser Sami and produced by company Synergy, ‘The End’ stars Youssef El Sherif, Nahed El Sebaie, Sahar El Sayegh, Ahmed Wafik, Amr Abdelgelil. The sci-fi series takes us one hundred years into the future where we meet an engineer who has to deal with the technology which appeared 50 years from now and proved damaging to the humanity.
Saudi Arabia s Minister of Culture Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud announced yesterday that the Kingdom is preparing to add music, theatre and art departments in its universities. The decision, the first of its kind in the Gulf country’s history, was revealed by the minister on his Twitter account. The minister said that the inclusion of art departments at universities is an important step in Saudi Arabia s cultural renaissance. The initial steps in the initiative involve launching an Arts and Culture Department at the King Saud University (Riyadh), a Bachelor of Science in Cinematic Arts at Effat University (Jeddah), and a Master’s in the Literature of Theatrical Arts at King Abdulaziz University (Jeddah). This is the second big move to include arts in Saudi curricula. In November 2019, the minister announced the introduction of music, theatre, and art lessons at public and private schools across the country. Art education is part of the Kingdom s larger “cultural renaissance” initiative implemented in recent years, which has included cultural activities being held in numerous Saudi cities. Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia had announced its first ever film festival, the Red Sea International Film Festival, which was scheduled to take place between 12 and 21 March 2020 and featured hand-picked local, regional and international films and filmmakers. The festival has been postponed due to the general shutdown of activities to prevent the spread of the virus. Between December 2019 and March 2020, Saudi Arabia s Al-Ula governorate held "Winter at Tantora", a large-scale music carnaval featuring musicians including Enrique Iglesias, Lionel Richie, Yanni, and the Caracalla Dance Theatre. In late 2019, the two-month-long Riyadh Season festival gave the capital a variety of entertainment activities, including music, exhibitions, and culinary showcases. The event brought to Jeddah the biggest names in the Arab music industry as well as numerous international performers.
Another British comic, Leigh Francis apologised last week for caricaturing black stars in his "Bo Selecta" show in 2002. "I guess we re all on a learning journey," he said before Britain s Channel 4 pulled it from its streaming service.
Just as the metro driver closed the coach doors and started moving from the Saray al-Qubba station, towards Helwan station (line one), a woman s screams broke the silence and shocked everyone: she was in labor. Her husband, visibly confused, asked the passengers for help. Each passing second weighed heavily on him as he wondered what to do. Transport police soon arrived, and were informed of the situation by the metro driver. The train stopped as the police then assigned an area for the woman to deliver her baby girl in one of the subway coaches. An ambulance was then called, delivering the couple and their baby to al-Damradash Hospital to receive medical attention. The passengers praised how quickly the police intervened and the skilled, kind manner in how they resolved the situation.
Foreign tourism will first return to Egypt on July 4 through a tourist flight from Belarus to Hurghada, according to talks between the tourism ministers of Egypt, Belarus and the Red Sea Tourism Investors Association. The Red Sea Tourism Investors Association said that Belarus will be the first market to enter the city, and communication with foreign tourist markets has intensified to set dates to operate airlines and resume foreign tourism. The list of countries returning to Egypt include Ukraine and Serbia. Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anany held a virtual meeting with Belarus s Minister of Sports and Tourism Sergei Kovalchuk, to discuss cooperation between both countries and what needs to be done to prepare to resume tourism in Egypt by early July. The focus will primarily be on Egyptian tourist destinations favored by the Belarusian side, foremost of which are the coastal tourist cities in the Red Sea and South Sinai which are visited by over 90 percent of Belarusian tourists. Anany asked his Belarusian counterpart about the rules and requirements for resuming tourism from Belarus. Kovalchuk highlighted the importance of relations between the two countries within the tourism field, and stressed that Egypt is one of the most important tourist destinations visited by Belarusians. The Belarusian minister expressed interest in sending a media delegation to Egypt s coastal tourist destinations to launch a press campaign promoting them and Egypt s other destinations. He also invited Egypt to participate in a tourism exhibition Belarus plans to organize within the upcoming months. Anany welcomed the invitation and the Belarusian media delegation idea. Egypt suspended tourism in March as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. Tourism is a vital sector in Egypt, accounting for about 12 percent of Egypt s gross domestic product. The tourism sector is also one of the economic sectors that has been most severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Egypt on Saturday confirmed 1,677 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country s number of confirmed total cases so far to 42,980. The total number of COVID-19 deaths has now reached 1,484 nationwide, after announcing 62 more deaths.
The art director of Cairo s International Film Festival has resigned amid calls for his removal because of past inflammatory posts on social media, the festival said. The resignation of Egyptian film critic Ahmed Shawky was announced Tuesday in a statement by the festival s advisory board. Shawky, who was acting artistic director of the 2019 festival, had been appointed artistic director of this year s festival earlier this month. That appointment brought criticism from activists and others who pointed to past comments Shawky made that apparently espouse violence. Those include referring to the death of dozens of Egyptian soccer fans in a notorious riot as them being “culled.” The statement said the festival would continue preparing for its 2020 edition and “uphold our principles of championing diversity, bridging cultures, encouraging dialogue, celebrating new voices.” The festival is scheduled for Nov 19-28. In a lengthy statement Wednesday, Shawky said he resigned from the festival because he did not want to “imperil their image,” while contending that he has been targeted by a “smear campaign accusing me of violence, sexism and homophobia!” He conceded that he did write “occasionally inappropriate posts“ in 2013 and 2014 that were “directed towards a specific group of bigots and extremists.” He said he “never meant to offend anyone.” Shawky said security authorities advised him to leave his home in Cairo to another “secret place” for fear about his safety after threats from soccer fanatics. Shawky s resignation comes after activists threatened to write to foreign filmmakers invited to the festival to inform them of his history. Among the most controversial statements by Shawky were posts about a 2012 soccer riot that left more than 70 people dead in Egypt s worst sports disaster and one of the world s deadliest. In a 2014 post, he referred to the deaths of the soccer fans as their being “culled,” suggesting those who died were somehow inferior and selectively killed. Almost all of those killed were from The Al-Ahly club s “Ultras” — hardcore supporters of the Cairo-based team and the country s largest fan association. Shawky used the same word to describe the death of the daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood leader who was killed in the summer of 2013 when security forces descended on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. “No-one should feel sorry for her,” he said. “If I know someone like her ... I would kill her with my own hands.” Following the recent backlash on social media, Shawky apologized this week, saying in a statement that he used “hurtful words” that were “painful to the families of the dead.” He has since shut down his social media accounts. Shawky was also sharply critical of Syrian filmmakers documenting the country s civil war, accusing them of taking advantage of the suffering to gain Oscar nominations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently been walking back statements it made on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that has been wreaking havoc in the world since December of last year. COVID-19 has killed at least 407,914 people around the world as of Tuesday evening, according to statistics produced by AFP. The virus has infected more than 7,169,550 people in 196 countries and territories since the outbreak began. The World Health Organization has retreated from its position on three basic issues regarding the coronavirus. First: Is a face mask useful in preventing the virus? At the onset of outbreak, the WHO announced on its official website that there was no evidence to support or deny the usefulness for healthy individuals of wearing medical or other face masks. However, the organization is studying the rapidly developing scientific knowledge on face masks and is constantly updating its guidance in this regard. Earlier this week, the WHO retreated from its earlier statement and issued a recommendation to governments to ask people to wear cloth face masks in public spaces in order to help limit the spread of coronavirus. The new directives, supported by the results of studies conducted in recent weeks, emphasize that face masks are only one of a group of tools that reduce the risk of the virus spread. “Masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19. We advise governments to encourage people to wear masks, and we specifically mean cloth masks, that is, non-medical masks,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization s director-general, told reporters. Second: What about asymptomatic transmission? As the virus began to spread, the WHO said on its official website that “COVID-19 infection is mainly caused by respiratory droplets secreted by a person who coughs or has other symptoms such as fever or fatigue, but many people with COVID-19 infection show only very mild symptoms.” This is especially true in the early stages of the disease, and the virus can be caught from someone who has a mild cough and does not feel ill. Some reports indicate that the virus can be transmitted even by people who show no symptoms. The extent of this type of infection transmission is not yet known, however, and the WHO continues to evaluate ongoing research and will publish any updated results. Two days ago, the organization revised its position again, stating that coronavirus transmission from people who carry the virus without symptoms is “very rare,” a statement that contradicts the its previous statements. At a press conference in Geneva Director of the Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases Unit of the WHO Maria Van Kerkhove said that, “It passes from an individual through infectious droplets. If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those cases, we would drastically reduce — I would love to be able to give a proportion of how much transmission we would actually stop — but it would be a drastic reduction in transmission,” she said. “When we actually go back and we say how many of them were truly asymptomatic, we find out that many have really mild disease,” Van Kerkhove said. “They re not quote-unquote Covid symptoms, meaning they may not have developed fever yet, they may not have had a significant cough, or they may not have shortness of breath — but some may have mild disease,” she said. “Having said that, we do know that there can be people who are truly asymptomatic.” Yesterday evening, shortly after the previous statement, Van Kerkhove attempted to clarify a “misunderstanding” resulting from her previous statements that people with coronavirus who show no symptoms rarely transmit infection. She explained that she was referring to a limited number of studies in her previous speech, studies that attempted to follow-up coronavirus patients who show no symptoms. Van Kerkhove said: “What I was referring to yesterday at the press conference was very a few studies — some two or three studies that were actually published on follow-up with cases that show no symptoms and that point to how effective they are in transmitting the virus.” Third: Is Hydroxychloroquine effective against COVID-19? Nine days after the suspension on May 25 of clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine, due to the publication of a study in the scientific journal The Lancet stating that the drug is not beneficial to health and is misused to treat COVID-19, the WHO decided to resume trials. The aim of the suspension was to allow the organization to analyze the available information and to make a decision in mid-June. “We are very confident now that there is no difference in deaths,” Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist told a news conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva. WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said that after analyzing “available data on deaths,” members of the organization s Safety and Follow-up Committee felt that there was no reason to amend the clinical trial protocol.
Egyptian short film Hazehy Laylaty ("This Is My Night"), starring actress Nahed Elsebaeiy, is competing in the 15th edition of the Geneva International Oriental Film Festival (FIFOG), taking place from 8 to 14 June 2020. The 15-minute 2019 production is directed by Yusuf Noaman, who wrote the screenplay with Ahmed Ehab Abdel-Wareth. The film is about a poor lady who decides to enjoy a day out in classy Cairo and have some ice-cream with her son, who suffers from Down syndrome. Instead, she faces a big struggle, although she insists on holding onto happy moments. Sixty films from different genres will be shown at the oriental festival taking place in Geneva and its municipalities under the theme Resistance… feminine.’ The 2020 edition is celebrating "the images of women" among other things. "It will amplify the hope of youth, will question the resistance of peoples and will explore the dynamism of societies in the Orient, especially their will to oppose moral and political conservatism with gentleness and a smile," stated the FIFOG.With over 200 institutional partners, the 60 films of the 15th FIFOG are from various genres and countries and vary from long and short fiction, short and long documentaries. Almost 60 discussions with directors or actors will be held at the festival s 25 venues in Geneva and its neighboring areas; Versoix, Vernier, Presinge, and Carouge. After premiering at Al-Gouna Film Festival in 2019,This Is My Night has been screened in many festivals worldwide, including Festival du Court Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand, gaining the interest of many critics and fans in addition to entities like the European Union.
Is there anybody who is of a larger stature and has had a greater impact on comedy in the Arab world than Naguib El-Rihani? His strength is obvious to everyone, from those who attempted to harm his reputation and belittle his impact to those who are learning, if not imitating, his performance style. Above all, there are millions of viewers who adored what little of his art reached us. What if this man had appeared in the time of television, or if he had lived longer and given us – as others have – dozens of films and plays? El-Rihani was born Naguib Elyas El-Rihani in 1889 in Bab El-She reya, a district in the heart of Old Cairo, to a father of Iraqi Chaldean Christian origin who worked in horse-trading and the gypsum trade and an Egyptian Coptic mother from Upper Egypt. El-Rihani learned French at the Collège des Frères de la Salle, though he did not complete his education due to family circumstances as well as his fascination with acting. El-Rihani was an accomplished stage actor and that his glory and name are engraved in the Egyptian theatre’s almanacs. He acted in 81 plays between 1916 and 1949, though no known recording of them exists. His most famous roles included The Egyptian Pound (1931), Men Don t Know How To Lie (1935), Five Till (1943). However, it is on the cinema screen where he secured his artistic immortality and high stature.Even though he was not initially enthusiastic about cinema and did not invest much into it, it was this medium that has captured a fraction of El-Rihani’s art: his husky voice, which is familiar and unmistakable, as well as his artistic style and school of acting that left its imprint on his theatre company’s members. It is thanks to him that these members went on to become stars. Whether they acknowledge this fact or not, whether they admit his influence on them or not, they all bear his mark. He also appeared in nine films between 1931 and 1949, of which seven survived. The latter works help us understand his genius and the art he represented. Although the copies of two of his three early films were lost, the characters El-Rihani performed in both films, His Excellency Keshkesh Bey (1931) and His Highness Wants to Marry (1936), did not differ much from the characters he portrayed in theatres of the time. A spirit of the theatre in cinema The character of Keshkesh Bey, the mayor of Kafr El-Ballas, is exploited by traders in the morning at the Cotton Stock Exchange and at night by beautiful girls in casinos. This character was similar to a clown, with no dialogue yet giving a performance that communicated well without words, according to El-Rihani’s own memoirs, which he published in 1937. In front of the camera, El-Rihani used a lot of improvisation, often co-authoring the script with his friend Badie Khairy. Starting with his fourth film Salama is Alright (1937), directed by Niazy Mostafa, El-Rihani began giving up on improvisation. He reached the pinnacle of his artistic maturity in his last film, Flirtation of Girls (1949), directed by Anwar Wagdi. The performance in Flirtation of Girls was a far cry from that of a man who began his life on the edge of clownishness, moving to presenting characters with depth and provoking thought. The first thing one notices in El-Rihani s films is that the actor’s long theatrical experience immensely influenced his acting. In film, the dialogue is at the forefront and the actors movement is limited in comparison to theatre. There is also larger diversity in shot sizes and angles.El-Rihani tried to find his own vocabulary within this kind of medium, always pushing theatre into it. Even though such theatrical performances would in many instances not be accepted in film, we should not ignore how much El-Rihani influenced the directors with whom he worked, especially since all of them, with the exception of Anwar Wagdi, made their directorial debuts with El-Rihani. Being a theatre icon, El-Rihani used his skill to portray contradicting emotions in one scene, moving cleverly between tragedy and comedy and inciting the laughter of the viewer. By plucking the strings of feeling within the viewer, El-Rihani knew well how to gain the audience s sympathy before addressing their minds and driving them to contemplate; displaying the flexibility of a trapeze performer. Unlike many other actors, El-Rihani s comedy did not aim to provoke laughter per se; he was rather satisfied with drawing even the most subtle smile on the faces of his audience, pushing them to think in the process. El-Rihani died of typhoid on 8 June 1949 at the age of 60.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly inspected the final stage of the Tahrir Square lighting project, after the Misr Company for Sound and Light finished installing the square’s lights. In a Thursday evening inspection tour, Madbouly said that work is being done to develop downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square into its most magnificent state yet, and join it among Egypt’s archaeological and tourist attractions.Tahrir Square’s development falls within the umbrella of a general project to develop Khedive Cairo, ordered by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as part of a plan to renovate all of Cairo’s historical areas. During his previous visit to the square lighting project, the Prime Minister was keen to follow up on observations made during the previous tour.Madbouly inspected the lighting elements added to buildings overlooking the square to harmonize with lights at the Egyptian Museum as well as the Tahrir Complex, and also checked the removal of visual clutter and advertisements from these buildings. Egypt seeks to renovate Tahrir Square with all its traditional luster while simulating some of the world’s most famous squares, Madbouly said, which is appropriate for the site of many historically important events.The Tahrir Square renovation project started up last year. A Ramses II obelisk, parts of which were unearthed in Egypt last August at Zagazig city in Lower Egypt, was fully re-assembled and displayed at the Square. The Antiquities and Tourism Ministry also installed four sphinxes from Luxor’s Karnak Temple to Tahrir Square after safely relocating them to the capital.
The Cairo Centre for Strategic Studies (CCSS) has announced that it has launched the Adel Mahmoud Science Forum as part of the centre s intellectual programmes. “The forum aims to honour the name of one of our greatest scientists, and looks forward to promoting scientific culture on viruses and biology, especially as community attention to biological issues mounts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” political writer Ahmed El-Maslemani, president of the CCSS, said in a press statement. “The forum, which will be chaired by a prominent biologist, will be an arena for developing knowledge about health policy and biosecurity,” El-Maslemani added. Professor Adel Mahmoud (1941-2018) was one of the most prominent scientists in the world who contributed to the invention of vaccines in modern times. The great scientist was mourned by prominent figures when he passed away in a New York hospital in June 2018, including Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, who said “the world has lost one of the greatest vaccine developers of our time, Dr. Adel Mahmoud, who saved countless children’s lives.” Born in Cairo in 1941, Professor Mahmoud graduated from Cairo University Medical School in 1963 to fulfil the dream of his mother, Fathia Osman, who attended the same college but was prevented from being a doctor by her family who believed at that time that women should not become doctors. Mahmoud moved to the United States in 1973, where he later became head of the Department of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, and in 2006 he became a professor at the prestigious Princeton University. Mahmoud was a pioneer in biomedical research and global health policy and oversaw the production and marketing of many vaccines that have made significant progress in public health.
The Metropolitan Opera canceled its fall 2020 performances on Monday and postponed several new productions to future seasons as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc with New York s cultural life. The storied opera house, which has been dark since mid-March because of the health crisis, said it still planned to go ahead with an abbreviated season to start December 31 instead of September. "Given the enormous organizational complexity of the Met s schedule, we have no choice but to cancel our fall season," General Manager Peter Gelb said. "The health and safety of our company members and our audience is our top priority, and it is simply not feasible to return to the opera house for a September opening while social distancing remains a requirement." The announcement comes a week before New York City is slated to begin its "phase one" reopening following a near-total shutdown of most non-essential activities as the city implemented social distancing protocols to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The first phase permits manufacturers, wholesale suppliers and some retailers to resume operations with restrictions. However, live performances are not permitted until "phase four" of the New York State plan, for which there is still no timetable. The Met s truncated schedule means it won t stage a new production of Verdi s "Aida" scheduled to open the season, or a premiere of Prokofiev s "The Fiery Angel." Those new productions will be performed in future seasons, the company said. The Met will also postpone new productions of two Mozart operas, "The Magic Flute" and "Don Giovanni," and will instead present revivals of the pieces in the 2020-21 season. The opera house still intends to go ahead with the April 2021 premiere of the modern work "Dead Man Walking" by Jake Heggie. The Met also announced other tweaks to its plans, including shortening some performances and moving up the curtain time to earlier in the evening when possible.
The management of a commercial center in Sheikh Zayed announced the opening of a drive-in cinema inside their mall. On its Facebook page, the mall’s management wrote that customers can suggest the films they want to see from their comfort of their cars. “Tell us about the films that you would love to watch and the types of food you would love to find and you can watch it from your car,” it wrote. During the 1990s, drive-in cinemas were popular throughout Egypt and was a project at the Cairo-Isamailia road. The project eventually stopped.
Amid global lockdown measures caused by the coronavirus pandemic and with only a few months left till the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), organisers are facing a tough decision that will determine the fate of the 42nd edition of the festival. With the spread of the virus obstructing filming globally, top cinema festivals have been forced to postpone or cancel this year s editions, including Cannes, which was cancelled in May. However, some festivals will proceed, including the Venice festival, whose planners announced days ago that they will hold minimal activities in their upcoming edition in September, despite the tough conditions in Italy. The CIFF director Mohamed Hefzy has announced that a detailed press release will be issued by the festival s board this week to address enquiries regarding the future of the CIFF s 42nd edition. The board of the festival, which is scheduled for November, has been in ongoing meetings and discussions since the crisis broke out, but the final decision still has not been made given that is it unclear how long the crisis will last and when travel will resume. On Sunday, the CIFF s artistic director Ahmed Shawky told a radio station that "all scenarios are still possible amid the current situation." "We have been in discussions over the past two months. Circumstances could force cancelation, but the most agreed upon plan so far is to prepare normally for the next edition while taking into consideration all possible expectations," explained the Egyptian film critic.While other festivals have been suspended in Egypt, ideas like reducing activities, holding the festival without public attendance or turning to online streaming platforms are possible options for the CIFF as well. "I think we must plan for it to be held as scheduled in case changes happen," prominent Egyptian critic Tarek El-Shennawy, a member of the CIFF consultancy panel, told Ahram Arabic news website earlier on Monday. "But from my point of view, I believe we can t present a final decisive vision before August," added El-Shennawy, explaining that Egyptians should look to the Venice festival preparations. Organised by the Ministry of Culture in Egypt and sponsored by many public and private entities, the 41st edition of the CIFF, named after former longtime artistic director Youssef Cherif Rizkallah, was quite successful, screening over 150 films from 63 countries and holding various parallel activities. Under the helm of prominent filmmaker Hefzy, new categories have been added to the competitions and various panels and workshops have made a big part of the prestigious festival, with side events like Cairo Industry Days proving to be a success. Currently, all movie theatres are closed in the 100-million-strong country, same as all cultural, sports and entertainment venues, with the number of recorded infections surpassing 25,000 and with almost 1,000 dead. With airports closed, Egypt has applied stricter precautionary measures this week in addition to the 8pm-to-5am curfew, including obligatory facemasks at public venues and on transportation. So far, the coronavirus has infected over 6.1 million globally and caused the death of over 370,000 people.
For many years, we have never heard about any of the great Egyptians artists who used religious or moral discourse? The answer is simply because they were real artists who had real talents. Their work became masterpieces in our modern history and some of them reached international level. Thus, they didn’t need to use religion to gain the respect of their audience. This gives us hint about many artists who d