Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood movie about Rwanda s 1994 genocide, declined to plead on Monday to all the 13 charges facing him, demanding he be allowed to plead to each separate count in a case that has also thrust a spotlight on to President Paul Kagame s government. Rusesabagina, who once called for armed resistance to the government in a YouTube video, appeared in a Kigali court accused of terrorism, complicity in murder and forming or joining an irregular armed group, among other charges. His trial promises to be the most high-profile yet in a string of cases against Kagame s opponents. Brought to court handcuffed in a van inscribed "RIB" for Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the 66-year-old Rusesabagina wore a tan suit and an anti-coronavirus mask. He sat pensively before responding. He told the court that he had contributed 20,000 euros ($24,000) to the National Liberation Front (FLN), the military wing of the Mouvement Rwandais pour le Changement Démocratique, which he co-chairs. "FLN killed people," he acknowledged. "If there are bad acts that were done against the people, I regret that and I ask forgiveness to the families of victims." Rusesabagina refused to enter a plea for any of the charges. He was due to appear again on Thursday to apply for bail. HOLLYWOOD MOVIE The Oscar-nominated film "Hotel Rwanda" portrayed Rusesabagina, a former hotel manager, using his connections with the Hutu elite to protect Tutsis fleeing the slaughter. After the genocide, Rusesabagina acquired Belgian citizenship and became resident of the United States. He became a vocal critic of Kagame, whom he accused of stifling opposition, an accusation the government denies. Rusesabagina has not been allowed to meet lawyers appointed by his family, they said in a statement. But one of his government-appointed lawyers, David Rugaza, argued he was on trial for exercising freedom of speech. "He got a Belgian citizenship in 1999," Rugaza told the one-judge hearing. "Rwanda is trying a foreign citizen (for) freedom of expression that he enjoyed while abroad." Some in Rwanda, including Kagame, have accused Rusesabagina of exaggerating his heroism, which he denies. It is still unclear how Rusesabagina came to be in Rwanda. His family say he was disappeared from Dubai. The court struck out a defence objection that the arrest was irregular, ruling that it had jurisdiction because Rusesabagina was arrested in Rwandan territory, without providing further details. JUSTICE SYSTEM UNDER SCRUTINY Kagame has ruled Rwanda since the end of the genocide and won the last elections - in 2017 - with nearly 99% of the vote. He has enjoyed widespread credit and support from Western donors for restoring Rwanda to stability, cracking down on corruption and boosting economic growth in the East African nation of 12 million. But international rights groups and political opponents say his rule is increasingly tainted by repression. "Kagame and other government officials regularly threaten those who criticize the government," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a briefing note, adding that the judiciary lacked independence and torture of prisoners was common. The government denies accusations of torture of detainees. Tibor Nagy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, tweeted earlier this month that the United States wanted to see Rusesabagina receive a "fair trial". Michaela Wrong, a British author researching a book about Rwandan politics, said the trial was already putting the Kagame government under greater scrutiny. "The Rwandan government s traditional supporters may well start asking themselves why so many opposition activists disappear and meet violent ends in Rwanda, why so many human rights activists and journalists flee abroad," she said.
Egyptian YouTubers Ahmed Hassan and his wife Zeinab received a firestorm of criticism after uploading a video of them pranking their infant daughter Eileen and laughing as she cried. The prank involved Zeinab painting her face black and creeping up on her daughter as she slept, causing the little girl to scream and cry at her mother’s unfamiliar appearance. Upon uploading the video to social media, the couple was met with outrage and were accused of exploiting their child and her misery for fame. One Facebook user announced that they had submitted a complaint against Ahmed and Zeinab to the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood. “A report to a child rights association and a report to any responsible authority: Save this innocent child from this psychologically-ill family,” the user wrote. The vlogging couple, who have over five million subscribers on YouTube alone, have repeatedly come under severe criticism for involving their young daughter in potentially traumatizing pranks. “It’s unbelievable that the insane quest for money, interaction, and fame has prompted a mother and a father to humiliate their girl in such a way. It’s not their first time. A child rights association has fined them LE200,000 before. Save the child and enough psychopaths,” the Facebook user continued.
On 11 September and following 10 days of theatrical events, plays, online seminars and discussions, the activities of the 27th edition of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre closed with an official ceremony held at the National Theatre. The closing evening opened with a performance titled Thoth, directed by Sameh Basyouni and staged by the students and graduates of the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts. The show was followed by the announcement of winners and the distribution of the awards in the presence of culture minister Ines Abdel-Dayem and the festival’s president Alaa Abd El-Aziz Sulaiman, a renowned theatre practitioner and academic. It is important to underscore that the festival saw light despite the previous ministerial plans to cancel this year s edition, motivating the move with inability of creating an event that would bring justice to the festival’s long and rich history. A different edition during Covid-19 The festival was eventually launched on 1 September, naturally refrained by many limitations due to Covid-19 pandemic: the inability to invite international theatre-makers and staging local performances to a limited number of audience. The edition, however, was enriched by some long-term strategical moves. At these unusual times, Sulaiman created a unique version of the festival where the plays (Arab and international in addition to one from Egypt) were screened online participating in competitive segments. The Egyptian plays performed across Cairo theatres got their own competition and awards, the first time in the festival s history. Not only did Sulaiman’s managerial strategies and organisational tweaks aim at rescuing the festival’s 27th edition, but he wanted to bring this edition a step closer to the older editions of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (CIFET). Founded in 1988 by then-culture minister Farouk Hosni, the festival was known as the CIFET and carried a competitive character. Following the interruption caused by the January 2011 Revolution and after a five-year hiatus, the festival returned in 2016 with its 23rd edition, a new name -- the Cairo International Festival for Experimental and Contemporary Theatre (CIFCET) -- and a non-competitive character. In the 27th edition Sulaiman returned the original name of the festival and its competitive character. Two new segments stood out: Recorded Performances and Lockdown Performances, which included shows screened online. In such circumstances – online screenings of international plays, limited number of audience in Cairo theatres, restrictions and social distancing requirements – the CIFET’s 27th edition was naturally different. It was not hard to notice that the usual sparkle that comes with such events was somehow missing, something that some audience members and critics rightfully pointed to. Lack of the festive character, the buzz that comes with theatre artists and their audiences, discussions at theatres and hotel lobbies, alongside other elements that characterise any cultural festival, could not be held owing to the pandemic. This atypical situation disappointed theatre-makers, audiences and critics, and this is probably the reason that the festival felt the need (alas, unnecessary) for self-justification expressed through the performance staged during the closing ceremony.From justification to overly direct images Titled Thoth, the closing performance was written by Mohamed Mabrouk and consisted of three segments with only the last one relating to the play’s name, the ancient Egyptian god of writing and learning presented quite briefly on stage. Side note: Thoth is the statuette for CIFET’s major awards. The first scene presented a group of young people trying to explain to a media representative the festival’s details, its segments, awards, etc. “It is an unusual edition, it is an unusual edition,” were the statements repeated to the media lady whose excessively energetic attitude challenged the aesthetics of her presentation of the role. Unless we are addressing a very young and inexperienced audience, there was no need to capitalise on repetitive explanations about the festival’s positioning this year. With the exaggerated self-explanations, not only does the script underestimate the valued audience’s understanding of the festival under Covid-19 realities, but it also puts one of the oldest Egyptian festivals – and the pride of many theatre-makers – in a position of need to justify itself. The second part of the performance used the metatheatre technique by introducing the playwright seated on the balcony expressing his disappointment about the events on the stage which do not represent the play he actually wrote. To make the situation more comic, Mabrouk added the playwright’s mother whose role on the same balcony is to fight with him over some unimportant issues. The metatheatre or metadrama is always an attractive segment of a theatrical work and it is probably this segment that had a clear idea and mise-en-scene work present during the closing evening. Scene three saw the appearance of Thoth that is walked through a sequence of dances representing different countries and cultures. The scenography by Mohamed Saad (the backdrop of a world map divided to shed light on six continents) and costumes by Ahmed Abd El Aziz (with continents drawn on the backs of jackets) provided direct explanation to each dance presented. While we were treated to the simple, yet well-designed choreography by Karima Bedeir following each culture with movement, the scenography and costumes left little room for the audience’s reflections or imagination.Special times call for special thoughts Pulling an exceptional or an unusual edition and convincing the audience of the festival’s values is definitely a big task. However, the ending ceremony is a work that should not be affected by the unusual organisational situation. While in Thoth the efforts of the students and graduates of the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts were evident, there was still space for more thought on the part of the playwright and time needed for the director to work with the actors. The imperfections in gags and slapsticks intertwined with overly direct messages made it harder for the performance to level with the important event s closing work. Once the performance ended, the culture minister and festival’s president took the stage and the announcement of the winners began. This is the most important segment in any national or international festival. With Abdel-Dayem and Sulaiman giving the proper weight to the moment, the greatest disappointment came with the presentation of awards for the Recorded Performances and Lockdown Performances. The unusual circumstances of the festival cannot explain the awards presenter Nesma Youssef Idris stepping unprepared on the stage, trying to find her way between the papers and trying not to mix up the winners, and at times finding it hard to formulate well-structured sentences. Putting the drawbacks aside, it s time to focus on the positive efforts exerted at the festival which was destined to meet the fate of its international peers that were cancelled. The festivals that survived cancellation had to either move their activities online, or limit the audience and the number of actual events on the ground. In such unusual circumstances, the usual understanding of the festival or a festive atmosphere can be taken with a degree of tolerance. A day after the festival’s closing, when the plays are no longer available online or in theatres, we emerge with many reflections as we are enriched with a good number of theatrical experiences that would have never seen the light hadn’t it been for CIFET’s 27th edition. And when one year from now, we attend the 28th festival, we will have its original name and competitive character already established – this in itself is a win. Check all the winers of the 27th edition of the festival here.
Influenza season is about to start in many Eastern Mediterranean countries, which may lead to an increase in cases of COVID-19 worldwide, according to a statement from the World Health Organization Regional Director, Ahmed al-Mandhari. He added that the number of coronavirus cases in the region exceeded two million this week. To reduce the risk of transmission in the coming weeks and months, individuals and societies must continue implementing preventive measures, especially in schools, areas where social gatherings are common, and public events, noted Mandhari. He pointed out that wearing masks is one of the most effective means to protect ourselves and others when social distancing is not possible. The director stated that “Countries must scale up existing public health measures, with a focus on testing, isolation and treatment of patients, protection of health workers, and contact tracing.” He additionally suggested countries set up targeted lockdowns to prevent social gatherings in hotspots, areas that are witnessing a significant rise in transmission. In the coming weeks, the World Health Organization will work with countries in the region to provide guidance through conducting intra-action reviews, a powerful tool used by the organization to improve the pandemic protocol of a country. Mandhari claimed that the review process will allow countries to periodically evaluate their national and subnational response to COVID-19, and identify areas requiring immediate action for sustainable improvements. The director ended his statement affirming that although much has been done in the region to prevent the spread of the virus, additional work still lies ahead.
Drug giant AstraZeneca said Tuesday it had paused global trials of its coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers. It’s a standard precaution in vaccine trials that is meant to ensure experimental vaccines don’t cause serious reactions among participants. “As part of the ongoing randomized, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow the review of safety data,” the company said in a statement sent to CNN. The company is testing its vaccine, called the Oxford vaccine because it was developed with the Britain’s University of Oxford, in the United States as well as the UK, Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa. “This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials,” the statement added. “In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully. We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.” Earlier Tuesday, AstraZeneca joined eight other companies in signing a pledge promising they would not seek premature government approval for any coronavirus vaccine. They promised they would wait until they had adequate data showing any potential vaccine worked safely. “We, the undersigned biopharmaceutical companies, want to make clear our on-going commitment to developing and testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in accordance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles,” the statement read. It was signed by the CEOs of AstraZeneca, BioNTech GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi. “We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which COVID-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved,” they added. The AstraZeneca vaccine is one of three coronavirus vaccines in late-stage, Phase 3 trials in the US. A Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) usually monitors trials for adverse events and can order a pause or halt a trial, but AstraZeneca did not say who had stopped the trial. Common adverse events in vaccine trials include fever, headache, soreness at the injection site and muscle pain. Regulators and companies alike have been working to ensure people trust in the vaccine authorization process. The US Food and Drug Administration must give either emergency use authorization or full approval to any vaccine before it can be distributed in the US. President Trump has said repeatedly he thinks at least one of the vaccines could be ready before Election Day on November 3. Most groups working on the vaccine say that is extremely unlikely but Biontech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin told CNN earlier Tuesday he believes the vaccine his company is developing with Pfizer could be ready for regulatory approval by mid-October. Dr. Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said it’s technically possible that if a DSMB saw strong evidence a vaccine was working before a trial was completed, it could recommend a halt to the trial so more people could get the vaccine. But Fauci said this was unlikely to happen before December. However, discussions about early authorizations and reports about White House pressure to speed along a vaccine have worried the public, as well as former FDA officials. Former FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf told CNN last week he was concerned even before Covid-19 that Trump would pressure the FDA to make decisions he wanted. “One of the things that have had me on pins and needles the last four years is literally Trump could do this with any drug or device or vaccine anytime he wants to,” said Califf, who was commissioner from January 2016 through January 2018. Fauci and FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn have said they would not cave into political interference.
Roderick MacKay had to get government approval to leave Australia, spent two weeks in preventive coronavirus quarantine in Rome and will be locked up in a hotel back in Australia for another two weeks upon his return. But the 33-year-old director says it s a small price to pay to get his first feature film, The Furnace, to the Venice Film Festival _ especially after it took six years to make. The Furnace explores a forgotten aspect of the 19th century west Australian gold rush, when Muslim and Sikh camel handlers from India, Afghanistan and Persia _ Iran s former name _ were brought in by the British colonizers to help open up the Outback, many essentially working as indentured laborers. The Furnace follows the story of a young Afghan cameleer played by Egyptian actor Ahmed Malek, who is led astray from his friendship with local Aboriginal people by a shifty gold prospector. "It s shining a light on a little known chapter of our history and representing community groups who have not really been represented in Australia s history, MacKay told The Associated Press. "And so I think on the basis of that, that was really the thing that compelled me to come here and do my bit to represent the film. That was no easy feat given the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown of MacKay s hometown of Perth, in western Australia, as well as Italy s restrictions on travelers coming from outside Europe. MacKay had to get federal government approval to leave the country, and successfully made the case that "The Furnace was the only Australian official selection at Venice, where it is screening in the Horizons section for new talent. "It turns out, we re kind of representing the country, he said. "So luckily, or thankfully, they considered that to be a worthy enough cause. Upon arrival in Italy, MacKay quarantined at a Rome apartment for two weeks, people-watching from the rooftop terrace, preparing for the festival and watching movies, including Ridley Scott s "Gladiator to "get in the vibe, in the zone of Rome. Now at Venice, he is overwhelmed: MacKay had only previously made two short films before "The Furnace, which he conceived of when researching the western Australian gold rush in 2014. "It s taken me six years to get this project off the ground. So a month in quarantine, really in the scheme of things, is kind of a small blip in the time that I ve taken from my life to realize this project, he said. After Venice, he retraces his steps back to Perth, where a government-appointed hotel quarantine awaits him. "Not ideal, but we understand that it s necessary in these times, he said. "And hey, perhaps it ll be a nice sort of two-week window to just process everything that we ve been up to here in this extraordinary time. The Furnace, who caught a big attention since its premier on Friday, is Malek s first collaboration with an international production. The Venice International Film Festival is taking place between 2 and 12 September.
Yesterday, the theatre community celebrated Egypt s National Day of Theatre with a performance staged at the Cairo s National Theatre and directed by Nasser Abdel-Moneim. This year, the event joined a number of celebrations and commemorations. To Egypt s theatrical community, it also triggered many retrospective thoughts: sorrows linked to the month of September and pride marking the year 2020, the centenary of Cairo s National Theatre. Let us begin with the tragic date of 5 September, when in 2005 a large fire erupted in the Beni Suef Cultural Palace claiming over 50 lives and injuring dozens. In fact, the number of victims remains debatable, as many point to the fact that dozens of artists passed away weeks and months after the incident due to the long-term injuries and deteriorating health caused by smoke and fire. The Beni Suef fire erupted during a performance of The Zoo Story, a one-act play by Edward Albee, staged during the Amateur Theatre Festival. In 2011, the then-minister of culture Emad Abu Ghazi declared 5 September as Egypt s National Day of Theatre, a date which also falls within the days of the annual Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre (taking place in the first 10 days of September).Curiously, this was not the only fire that threatened the Egyptian theatre. In September 2008, a fire damaged large segments of the Cairo National Theatre. Though the incident did not claim lives, it destroyed huge parts of the decorations and architectural components, forcing the theatre to close its doors to the public for over six years. However, the year 2020 also marks the National Theatre s centenary. The beautiful edifice surrounded by a busy square and roads of Cairo s downtown was officially founded by Egyptian national entrepreneur Talaat Harb in 1920. However, the history of the building and area goes much further back in time. Erected in the area of Al-Azbakiya Gardens, the semi-theatrical structures surrounded by palaces and a lake aimed at first to provide entertainment for the Mamelouke rulers. During Napoleon Bonaparte s expedition to Egypt (1798-1801), the site became a location for French troops to enjoy some theatrical shows. It was in 1885 that the first Egyptian troupe performed in the location that was already known as Al-Azbakiya theatre.The first official National Egyptian Theatre Troupe was founded in 1935, but it was disbanded only seven years later due to staging anti-British performances. Following the 1952 Revolution, the Al-Azbakiya Theatre became the National Theatre, becoming home to the Egyptian National Group and the Modern Egyptian Theatre Group. Many renowned Egyptian actors stood on the stages of the National Theatre, presenting numerous works by known playwrights such as Alfred Farag, Lotfi Al-Kholi, Noaman Ashour, Youssef Idris, among others. The theatre has big significance with unique architecture adorned by Islamic and Arab ornaments, and in 2000 it was put on Egypt’s Heritage List. Today s edifice consists of two auditoriums. The large hall with a row of balconies bears the name of the Lebanese actor George Abyad, while the smaller hall is named after the renowned Egyptian actor and director Abdel-Rehim Al-Zorkani. The 5 September celebration, which took place at the National Theatre s stage, brought many artists and ministry officials to the theatre s halls.A performance written by Mostafa Selim and directed by Nasser Abdel-Moneim walked the viewers through the different eras of the Egyptian theatre s history. During the same event, Culture Minister Ines Abdel-Dayem honored nine theatre personalities including the late critic Ali Al-Ra i (represented by his son Ahmed), late writer Mohsen Moselhy (represented by his widow), late scenographer Hussein El-Ezaby (represented by his son Mohamed), late director and Egypt s father of folkloric arts Abdel-Rahman (represented by his son Ahmed), theatre directors Hamdy Tolba, Fahmy El-Khouly, director Hussein Mahmoud (represented by his brother), artist Raja Hussein and theatre director Khaled Galal. The celebrations come within the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre, an annual event which in its 27th edition is presided over by Alaa Abdel-Aziz Suleiman. Due to the current unusual circumstances, the festival is presenting a limited number of the Egyptian plays in theatres, while Arab and international plays are shown online. The 27th CIFET opened on 1 September and continues until 11 September.
NEW YORK (AP) — In their driveways or in their bedrooms, using little cardboard boxes or piles of backyard dirt, young fans of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman paid their respects with lots of Wakanda salutes and mock funerals attended by action figures. Soon after the shocking news of Boseman’s death Friday at age 43, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles began posting photos of funerals staged by kids for King T’Challa, the actor’s lead character from the Marvel blockbuster. Some of those posts have been shared thousands of times amid an outpouring of grief from admirers of all ages who were unaware he had been battling colon cancer for four years. Other young fans mourned in more private ways, watching “Black Panther” and “42” for the umpteenth time with their families in Boseman’s honor. To many kids, his passing was a life event, driven by the change-makers he portrayed but also by his heartfelt comments in awards speeches and interviews about the need for more opportunities for people of color. Boseman’s King T’Challa, ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, was introduced in 2016′s “Captain America: Civil War.” His “Wakanda Forever” salute reverberated around the world after the release of “Black Panther” two years ago. The actor’s turn as baseball great Jackie Robinson in “42” came out in 2013 and is now being discovered by younger fans. Nick Cummings, 11, of Louisville, Kentucky, loves both films. He stumbled on word of Boseman’s death on TikTok, before his mother had broken the news. “At first when I heard it I didn’t believe it,” he said Monday. “I felt like a part of me got erased.” A little too old for action figure funerals, Nick, who is Black, donned his baseball jersey emblazoned with Robinson’s “42” and had no plans to take it off any time soon. Twins Lenny and Bobby Homes in Mesa, Arizona, are 10. Their mom, Annalie, had no intention of telling the boys, who are Filipino American, about Boseman’s death, but they found out on their own Sunday on YouTube. They went the funeral route, using a black car seat for their prone Black Panther. Dad David Homes is a big Marvel enthusiast. He began schooling his sons in both the comics and films when they were little. How many times have they seen “Black Panther”? “A lot!” the two chimed in unison. Of Boseman’s death, Lenny said: “We were really sad. He was one of our favorite actors. When we heard, we were like, the Panther needs a funeral. He was a good king. He was very nice and kind, and he followed the rules.” Annalie said she wanted to shield the boys from the news because they lost a grandfather less than a month ago. The twins have more than 100 action figures and their own YouTube channel. They gathered up 13 of their favorite characters for the funeral Sunday, including Thor, Black Widow, Rocket Raccoon, Hulk and Spider-Man. The toys’ arms can’t bend into the Wakanda salute, so the boys arranged them with arms extended, reaching out to T’Challa. Djoser Burruss, 12, of San Diego took the news hard. One of his grandmothers died of the same type of cancer. Djoser, who is African American, posted a tribute to Boseman on Instagram: “R.I.P. Chadwick Boseman, the one and only Black Panther. We mourn your passing but you will forever live in our hearts. Thank you for showing us what KINGs do.” In an interview Tuesday, Djoser added: “I saw it on my phone and I was devastated. We kind of owe it to ourselves to be better every day because not every day is guaranteed, just like Chadwick, but he did so much in those four years.” His mother, Christina, said the family rewatched “Black Panther” last weekend, along with videos of Boseman speaking out on behalf of Black people to “soak up all of his energy and his wisdom.” Gavyn Batiste, 7, in Lafayette, Louisiana, has seen “Black Panther” a half dozen times. He invited Captain America, Thor and Hulk, among other Avengers, to the funeral he held. He also wrote a song for T’Challa that goes like this: “Black Panther is gone. I don’t know what to say. I never thought this would happen in my day. This is sad. I am mad. I don’t know how to feel. It still feels unreal. Wakanda Forever!” Sonya Antoine, Gavyn’s mom, said the film offers Black children a “sense of hope, a sense of dreaming, and to just embrace who you are in your culture and what that culture can mean to you and your family.” Nick’s mother, Deedee Cummings, writes children’s books with diverse characters and knows how rare it is to find afrocentric fare for children like the futuristic world in “Black Panther.” She recalled how happy her son was to see the film in a theater with a neighbor when it first came out. Both wore Wakanda gear. The family watched the movie again on TV after Boseman’s death. Nick sat solemnly this time around. “He never sits still,” Deedee said. “This time he did.” Deedee thinks parents shouldn’t keep the news of Boseman’s death from their young kids. “It’s so important to acknowledge this loss to children, especially Black children,” she said. Susan Nicholas in Atlanta also writes for children. Her book, “The Death of Cupcake,” is out in November and focuses on grief among kids. Boseman’s death, she said, may be difficult for parents to discuss because they’re reluctant to burst the larger-than-life bubble created in movies. “But kids actually have insights that are quite profound,” she said. “We can all elevate our perspectives around death to really heal from that. At the end of the day, those are human beings in those costumes and they succumb to death, too, even if Hollywood doesn’t allow them to die.” By LEANNE ITALIE Image: This combination photo shows, from left, Gavyn Batiste, 7, dressed as Black Panther and surrounded by action figures in Lafayette, La. on Aug. 31, 2020, actor Chadwick Boseman in character as T’Challa in “Black Panther” and 10-year old twins Lenny, left, and Bobby Homes paying tribute to Boseman at their home in in Mesa, Ariz. on Aug. 31, 2020. Boseman died of colon cancer on Friday, Aug. 28 at age 43. (Takiyah Dupas, Marvel Studios, Annalie Homes via AP)
Prince Harry and his wife Megan Markle have signed an agreement with streaming giant Netflix to produce various programs. “Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, adding: “As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.” “We’re incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement commenting on the move. The contract, which will last for several years, includes the production of documentaries, feature films and children’s programs according to the BBC, which added that the agreement comes six months after the couple withdrew from their royal duties and moved to California to escape media attention. “Our lives, both independent of each other, and as a couple have allowed us to understand the power of the human spirit: of courage, resilience, and the need for connection” the couple said in a statement. “Through our work with diverse communities and their environments, to shining a light on people and causes around the world, our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope.” The couple added that they were happy to work with Netflix and believed that its unprecedented reach will enable them to present influential content that pushes action. Sarandos said that Netflix is excited to work with the couple to create content able to raise understanding among audiences globally. Among the projects under development include a nature documentary series with a creative spin and an animated series celebrating inspiring women, the Deadline website reported. The couple will present their production to Netflix through a company whose name has not yet been identified. Prince Harry currently appears in a a documentary available on Netflix called “Rising Phoenix” about the Paralympics, while Meghan previously worked with Disney to narrate a documentary called “Elephant”. The announcement of the agreement with Netflix comes after the publication of the book “Finding Freedom”, about the couple’s life within the royal family. The couple’s spokesperson said that they have not made any statements about the book, which discusses the escalation of tension between them and the rest of the family.
Can I use a face shield instead of a mask? No. Health officials don t recommend the clear plastic barriers as a substitute for masks because of the lack of research on whether they keep an infected person from spreading viral droplets to others. However, those who want extra protection may want to wear a face shield in addition to a mask. Face shields have the added benefit of protecting your eyes and discouraging you from touching your face by acting as a physical barrier, says Christopher Sulmonte, project administrator of the biocontainment unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. More Viral Questions: – Does a face mask protect me, or just the people around me? – Can mosquitoes spread the coronavirus? – How will office life be different in a pandemic? Meanwhile, the available research so far indicates that the best face shields for preventing viral spread are hooded or wrap around the sides and bottom of the face, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That s because those shields leave less space for droplets from sneezing, coughing and talking to escape. If you do wear a reusable face shield in addition to a mask, the CDC notes the importance of cleaning it after each use. The agency also says you should wash your hands before and after taking it off, and avoid touching your face while removing it.
Egyptian singer Hanan Mady and Sout Masr ("Sound of Egypt") Orchestra, conducted by Ahmed Atef, will give a concert on Tuesday. The concert will introduce a selection of famous Egyptian TV theme songs. Mady, who is known for her TV theme songs from the 1990s, will also perform some of her hits at the Fountain Theatre of the Cairo Opera House. Mady made her debut singing along Ali El-Haggar the well-known theme song of the TV series El-Leqaa El-Thany, and then went on to record the theme for the El-Mal Wal-Banoun series. Making a few new singles in recent years, including a duet with El-Haggar, Mady released four successful albums throughout her career, featuring popular tracks like Leilet Eshq, El-Bahr, Sheddy El-Dafayer, Asfour and Kan Wa-Kan. Cultural events and activities in Egypt resumed in July as part of the country s gradual reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown. All events are being held under strict measures that include social distancing, wearing face masks, and sanitisation. The recently founded open-air Opera arena, Fountain Theatre, is hosting a few music activities in September including three concerts for Omar Khairat.
Renowned Egyptian pianist and composer Omar Khairat and his orchestra will return to the Cairo Opera House to give three concerts in September at the Fountain Theatre after months of absence due to pandemic. The concerts, scheduled for two successive nights on Thursday 10 and Friday 11, weeks before the third is held on Tuesday 29 September, are expected to witness a selection of Omar Khairat s famous repertoire. One of the most popular contemporary composers in the region, Khairat has produced scores for over 50 Egyptian films, including The Sixth Day (1984), The Terrorist (1993), Mafia (2002), Girl s Love (2003), The Embassy in the Building (2005), Deer s Blood (2006) and 2019 s patriotic hit Al-Mammar (The Passage). In television, his memorable works include Lailat El-Qabd Ala Fatma (1984) and Dameer Abla Hekmat (1991). Khairat also composed music for theatre and special ceremonies, such as the opening of important Egyptian and regional cultural festivals. Khairat has also arranged compositions by iconic Egyptian musician Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, releasing them in Wahabiat 1 and 2 albums, in addition to arrangements for Oum Kalthoum’s songs. Cultural events and activities in Egypt were resumed last month as part of phase one of the country s reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown. All events are being held under strict measures that include social distancing, obligatory masks, and sanitisation. Programme: Thursday 10, Friday 11 and Tuesday 29 September, 8:30 Fountain Theater, Cairo Opera House
The upcoming edition of the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre will be dedicated to the late Egyptian theatre director, actor and academic who passed away earlier this month. Born on 25 January 1943 in a small village in Assiut governorate in Upper Egypt, Sanaa Shafaa moved to Cairo with his mother and father, who was an Al-Azhar scholar, at the age of eight. Shafaa attended Al-Gamaliya primary school, where he expressed interest in the arts for the first time, joining amateur acting troupes. He then went on to study acting at the High Institute of Theatrical Arts, where he later on worked as a professor and became dean of the department. In parallel with his academic work, Shafaa directed theatre plays, and one of his first famous works was Don Quixote, staged in 1975. To the wider audience, Shafaa was known for his many roles in television series, radio programmes and appearances in film since the 1980s. His latest appearances were in television series Al-Qamar Akher Al-Dunya (2020), Khat Sakhin (2020), Lyalina 80 (2020), Abu Gabal (2019), Bahr (2019), among dozens of others. The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre will run between 1 and 11 September online and in theaters, with an opening ceremony to take place at Cairo s National Theatre.
Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed will receive a Golden Pyramid Award for lifetime achievement in the cinema field during the opening ceremony of the 42nd edition of the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), scheduled to take place between 19 and 28 November with Mohamed Hefzy as CIFF president. Hamed is among the most renowned Egyptian screenwriters, with over 40 films and 30 television series to his name. Born in 1944, Hamed began his writing career in the late 1960s after completing a university degree in sociology. The film ‘Dreams of the Fly Boy’ (1978) started his long-time collaboration with actor Adel Imam, and is considered his breakthrough script. The pair went on to work together on several modern classics, including Al-Ghoul (1983), El-Le’eb Maa El-Kobar (1991), Al-Erhab wel Kabab (1992), Toyour El-Zalam (1995), and the screenplay for the critically acclaimed ‘The Yacoubian Building’ (2006), which Hamed’s son, Marwan Hamed, directed. Hamed has also worked alongside many esteemed Egyptian directors, including Yousry Nasrallah, Atef El-Tayeb and Sherif Arafa, among others. Some of his more recent works include the films Ehky ya Scheherazade (2009) and Ot W Far (2015), as well as the television series Al-Gamaa (The Brotherhood) (2010) and Return of Al-Gamaa (2017). Hamed often had to overcome obstacles to see his work reach the silver screen, because of the daring and controversial themes his writing covered. “Written in the mid-80s, the touching and renowned drama Al-Baree (1997) faced a lengthy censorship battle due to its controversial political messages. It was not released until 19 years after production, and only after the ending was changed,” the CIFF press release announcing the award says. Hamed later went on to establish his own production company, Wahid Hamed Film Productions, to help bring his and others’ work to cinema and television. Hamed has received numerous awards in Egypt and internationally. In 2017, he was awarded the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) Arab Lifetime Achievement Award.
The organizers of the Berlin International Film Festival say they will stop awarding separate acting prizes to women and men beginning next year. Berlinale organizers said Monday the performance awards will be defined in a gender-neutral way at next year s festival, for which a physical event is planned. The festival awards a Golden Bear for the best film and a series of Silver Bears, which until this year included best actor and best actress honors. Organizers said those prizes will be replaced with a Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance and a Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance. In a statement, the co-heads of the festival, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, said ``not separating the awards in the acting field according to gender comprises a signal for a more gender-sensitive awareness in the film industry. At the same time, the Alfred Bauer Prize, which is named after the festival s founding director, will be permanently retired. The prize was suspended this year due to revelations about Bauer s role in the Nazis moviemaking bureaucracy. Commenting on the decision to hold a physical event next year, despite uncertainties due to the coronavirus pandemic, the two directors stressed the need for a "lively relationship with the audience. "In times of the corona pandemic, it has become even clearer that we still require analogue experience spaces in the cultural realm, they said, noting that other festivals have also resumed holding physical rather than virtual events. The 2021 festival is scheduled for Feb. 11-21. This year s festival was one of the last major events that took place before the coronavirus pandemic largely shut down public life in Germany.
Renowned Egyptian singer Ali El-Haggar will perform this Thursday in Alexandria as part of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Art Centre s 18th International Summer Festival. El-Haggar, 66, who has released new singles and online concerts recently, will be singing some of his famous TV series themes and most memorable hits. El-Haggar has been one of the iconic singers in Egypt and the Arab world in the past four decades, collaborating with some of the leading Egyptian lyricists, such as Salah Jahin, Abdel-Rahman El-Abnoudy, and Sayed Hegab, in addition to some of the country s renowned composers from Baligh Hamdy and Sayed Mekkawy to Omar Khairat and Fathy Salama. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina s 18th Summer Festival, dedicated to late Egyptian folk-dance icon Mahmoud Reda, is seeing a variety of various art forms, with the remaining music events including concerts by Andromida (25), Nouran AbuTaleb (26) and Mostafa Awar (29) on the last day of the festival. Cultural events and activities in Egypt were resumed last month as part of phase one of the country s reopening after the COVID-19 shutdowns. All events are being held under strict measures that include social distancing, obligatory masks, and sanitisation.
Two decades of Maya Husseini’s work to restore stained glass windows destroyed in the Lebanese civil war was lost in an instant in the seismic port explosion in Beirut. “I can say that in this blast, 20 years of my professional life was on the ground,” said Husseini, 60, who has worked on historic landmarks including many of Beirut’s churches. “Part of me has gone.” The Aug. 4 detonation of a massive quantity of explosive chemicals stored unsafely at Beirut port killed at least 178 people, injured some 6,000 and damaged buildings across a swathe of Beirut, carpeting streets in broken glass. Damaged buildings included the Sursock Museum, a modern and contemporary art museum reopened in 2015, whose vibrant stained glass had been painstakingly restored by Husseini. Its windows, which were particularly eye-catching at night when they were illuminated, were blown out by the blast. At least 10 of the projects Husseini has worked on since the 1975-90 civil war have been destroyed. “Every day I am getting phone calls,” she said at her workshop on the outskirts of Beirut. Husseini learnt her craft in France, sent by her father, a church engineer who used to order stained glass from overseas as leaded, stained glass was not common in Beirut prior to the war. One of the projects in which she took greatest pride was the 19th century St Louis Capuchin Cathedral in the Bab Idriss district of Beirut’s historic city centre, an area where she recalls going to drink lemonade with her friends as a child. The windows of the church, which was destroyed in the war, were restored by Husseini over two years in a project completed around four years ago. “I had tried, as much as possible, to feel the history of this church,” she said. “At that point I broke down, it was as if I was injured, certainly not physically, but emotionally.” Husseini said she had been thinking about stopping work in two years but her plans had now changed. “Even if 20 years of my work has gone - and perhaps I won’t last in this work for another 20 years ... we will rebuild.”
Following months of shutdown due to Covid-19, the Cairo Celebration Choir (CCC) released a new music video titled The Day (El-Youm). The song, performed by the choir, guest soloists, and musicians, went viral only 48 hours after its release on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, scoring 100,000 views in total. In addition, the audio version of The Day was released on Spotify, Anghami and other audio platforms. The video follows a technique popularised during the months of shutdown, presenting the artists in tiles as each performs from their home. The song carries a delightful, cheerful air as the lyrics lead the listeners to reflect on the benefits from the months of isolation. The lyrics tell us that as we meet our loved ones once again (after the lockdown) we have changed, our perspective on life being deeper. It is through those past months that we have developed and as such gained an opportunity to create a positive impact on the world around us. It is time for the new Day. “Since our activities stopped, the choir kept asking me to do something for online viewers. I didn’t want to create yet another composition gathering the choir members into one video. There had to be an idea and a message,” Nayer Nagui, the founder, artistic director and conductor of the Cairo Celebration Choir explains to Ahram Online.The Day is based on Nagui’s composition from 2009, commissioned to him by the Pan African Cultural Festival (Panaf) held in 2009 in Algiers. "The original lyrics talked about Africa. I changed them to words suiting the current situation and the message the choir shares with the listeners today,” Nagui clarifies, adding that the original composition was successful at numerous venues. Following its Algiers premiere, the song was performed in Morocco and Spain. The video gathers 90 members of the Cairo Celebration Choir, an over 100-member strong body, which was founded in 2000 by Nagui. Several guest soloists joined the online project including: soprano Dina Iskander, mezzo soprano Jolie Faizy, Arabic singer Rehab Metawi, in addition to instrumentalists Diaa Badr Tass (percussion), Steven Simon (bass guitar), the Ayoub Sisters (violin and cello), Ramadan Mansour (tabla), Nashaat Labib (req), and Veronica Bievz (piano). The video gave special thanks to Peter Bahgat (for guitar audio tracks) and Mayada Emam (for sign language). Music, lyrics and choir arrangement were done by Nagui, with general arrangement by Steven Simon. Nagui underlines the great effort the whole team exerted during the production of the music video. “While the choir followed the composition as is, the soloists improvised their lines,” he explains.Nagui describes the audio recording as “a real hero of the production,” explaining that each singer and instrumentalist recorded their lines individually from home, using their mobile phones. “Sound editing and mixing were done by Mafdy Thabet in Dream Studio. Mafdy collected a total of 152 tracks, each recorded with a different phone, in different environments and with different acoustics. Turning it all into one work that sounds uniform as if it were recorded in one studio is a real rocket science work,” Nagui says. He adds that prior to the recording, the singers were given a long list of instructions from video director Mohamed El Alfy, who worked with video editor Sherif El Alfy representing Grand Creation. “Each position of the singer, the direction of his eyes, the outfit, the reactions, and head movements were meticulously planned by Mohamed,” Nagui explains.He adds that prior to the recording, the singers were given a long list of instructions from video director Mohamed El Alfy, who worked with video editor Sherif El Alfy representing Grand Creation. “Each position of the singer, the direction of his eyes, the outfit, the reactions, and head movements were meticulously planned by Mohamed,” Nagui explains.The long list of all the artists involved is duly enumerated in lengthy credits at the end of the video, accompanied by a few short bloopers from the making. The two months of hard work have definitely paid off. The final video is an impressive five-minute-long work filled with cheerful musicality and a huge dose of positive energy while giving the viewer an impression that they also communicate with one another on the screen. “I never thought that it would be such a big deal, to be honest. On the financial level, the production of the video is equal to the long journey that includes preparations and staging of a full, one-and-a-half hour long concert,” Nagui concludes. The video is part of the year-long celebration of the Cairo Celebration Choir’s 20th anniversary. As Nagui revealed, the festive year started with the Christmas 2019 concert and will conclude with the documentary film about the choir scheduled to be released by the end of 2020.Founded in 2000 by conductor and composer Nayer Nagui, the CCC consists of over 120 members from over seven nationalities from various backgrounds and professions. The singers came together through the passion for music, a dedication to singing and a desire to spread cross-cultural understanding and musical appreciation in Egypt, the Arab region and internationally. The CCC’s repertoire has developed over the years to include classical music compositions, arrangements of well-known Arabic and traditional pieces as well as world music. The CCC has performed in numerous prestigious venues in Egypt, including the Cairo Opera House, the Alexandria Opera House s Sayed Darwish Theatre, the Manasterly Palace, Saladin’s Citadel, All Saints Cathedral, the Basilique Church, among others. On the international scene, the choir enchanted audiences at Morocco’s National Mohammed V Theatre in Rabat, and was joined by the French Choeur régional Vittoria d’Ile-de-France in a performance in Soisy-sous-Montmorency before heading to the UNESCO Main Theatre Hall in Paris in 2014. The choir won the Silver Award for Stylish Interpretation of Arabic Music in the “Prague Voices” choir competition in the Czech Republic, and in 2016 it earned the Silver Award Diploma in the category of Folklore with Accompaniment at the World Choir Games in Sochi, Russia. The CCC is also known to give annual Christmas concerts at the Cairo Opera House, an event attracting large audiences during the festive days.
After years of estrangement, American actor Brad Pitt will cooperate with his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston for the first time since separating 19 years ago, when Pitt went on to marry actress Angelina Jolie. The two will co-star in a virtual live-table reading of the script for “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” (1982). A celebration of the film will take place on Facebook and TikTok, showing clips from the movie and dialogue between the two stars and other cast members, which include Julia Roberts, Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman, Henry Golding, Shia LaBeouf, Sean Penn, and Dane Cook. Proceeds from this live broadcast will be donated to help medical efforts against the coronavirus. Pitt, 56, and Aniston, 52, have not worked together since 2001, before their separation. Rumors later swelled regarding Pitt s relationship with Jolie after they co-starred in “Mr and Mrs Smith” (2005). Pitt then announced his separation from Aniston and got into a relationship with Jolie for ten years. They got married in their tenth year, only to eventually divorce following Pitt s drug abuse. He underwent treatment in order to meet his six children with Jolie, three of whom are adopted. Rumors then began to surface regarding a possible return to Aniston, who herself had recently announced separating from fiancé writer and actor Justin Theroux. For years since their marriage, Pitt and Aniston had been considered one of the most beloved couples in Hollywood, until they separated without having children.
After an absence of 27 years, Egyptian superstar Amr Diab will finally return to the world of acting with an Arabic-speaking series on Netflix. The Netflix Middle East Twitter account announced the news, writing: “Amr Diab, the best-selling artist in the Middle East, who won seven World Music Awards and six African Music Awards, returns to the drama after a 27-year absence with Netflix.” Diab expressed happiness after contracting with Netflix to work on an international project. On his official Twitter account, the star published a video and commented: “Very happy to cooperate with Netflix in this new artistic work. I am one of the firmest believers that art is a global language, and now with this dramatic work I am very excited, along with Netflix, that we can reach more than 193 million followers in more than 190 countries around the world.” Diab recently released the song “Malak Ghairan” through an Egyptian telecommunications company. It is written by Turki Al Sheikh, composed by Folklore, and distributed by Bosnians Salvatore Ganacci and Nabuchadnosar Poli. He also recently released a clip of his song “Ya Baladna Ya Helwa”, written by Tamer Hussein, composed by Aziz al-Shafei, distributed by Tariq Madkour, and directed by Tariq al-Erian.
Egyptian actress Nelly Karim announced that filming for the second part of “Bi 100 Wesh” (Of a Hundred Faces) TV series would begin soon, following the success of the first season during the 2020 Ramadan season. Karim published pictures with co-star Asser Yassin on her Instagram account on Saturday, writing: “We miss you all … thank you for all the love and support .We are very glad u guys liked the tv series. Can’t wait for Part 2 sooooooooon.”
The press thrives more with freedom, and innovates in a politically and intellectually healthy society. The press should be free, and has to work against all falsehood and deception. Therefore, the journalist is controlled by his conscience, his vision and his ideas, and laws can t prevent deception. A journalist is able to accuse people without insulting them. Law can t prevent him from doing this, but his concie