Egypt Independent: Culture-Main news en Jordan’s film ‘Theeb’ tipped for landslide wins in Abu Dhabi <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div><span style="font-size: 14px;">Encouraged by an Orizzonti Best Director award won at the 71st Venice Film Festival, the first international award for Jordanian cinema, observers predict director Naji Abu Nowar&rsquo;s long narrative &ldquo;Theeb&rdquo; could achieve a sweeping success at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (from 23 October to 1 November 2014).</span></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Abu Nowar, born to an English mother and a Jordanian father, had previously been named 2014&rsquo;s best Arab director by Variety magazine. His first cinematic experiment was in 2009 through a short movie, Death of a Boxer, which screened at several international festivals.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In &ldquo;Theeb,&rdquo; Abu Nowar navigates through a charming environment at the Jordanian desert, specifically at Wadi Rum, going back to 1916 during the World War I, when the battle was heating between the Ottoman empire and Britain. The film tells the story of Theeb, a young Bedouin who loses his father, the tribe&rsquo;s chief, and is brought up by his elder brother, Hussein.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A British soldier comes to the tribe one day, asking for a guide; the Bedouins recommend Hussein. Theeb goes after his brother without the latter&rsquo;s knowledge. Hussein gets killed in the middle of the conflict that was raging at the area, pitting Arab revolutionaries, Ottoman mercenaries and Bedouins. He decides to seek revenge</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A positive asset for the movie was its reliance on real characters from the Bedouin environment, thus ensuring more credibility, realism and spontaneity in the actors&rsquo; performance. The political depiction in the movie was obviously inferior compared to the focus on Bedouin life&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Speaking to <em>Al-Masry Al-Youm</em>, Abu Nowar said his movie is the by-product of efforts that lasted for four years in search for financing and in preparation. He said the reactions the film drew at the festival&rsquo;s multi-cultural attendance encourage him to produce more works that reflect the aspirations of average people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Abu Nowar added that the Jordanian setting added an element of beauty to his film, besides the account it gives to historical changes both on the short and long term.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Jacir Eid, who played the character of Theeb, told <em>Al-Masry Al-Youm</em> that he had not encountered any problems in his first acting experience, thanks to Abu Nowar who gave them the total freedom in performance. He said that fact made their trace vivid on the script that was a mixture of improvised and written sentences.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:29:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2439360 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/10/30/94/untitled.png Egyptian actor Amr Waked on making movies at home and abroad <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Egyptian actor and film-maker Amr Waked, equally at home in Cairo and Hollywood, says the time is ripe for a host of other Arab stars to make it big abroad.</p><p>Waked, an established celebrity in Egypt,&nbsp;has also appeared in a string of global hits alongside George Clooney in &quot;Syriana&quot;, Kristin Scott Thomas in &quot;Salmon Fishing in the Yemen&quot; and Scarlett Johansson in this summer&#39;s sci-fi extravaganza &quot;Lucy&quot;.</p><p>His latest venture brings him back to Cairo where he plays a gangster taking on an organ trafficking ring in &quot;El Ott&quot; or &quot;The Cat&quot;. The movie, which he also produced, premiered at the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival this week.</p><p>The film is his second collaboration with director Ibrahim al-Batout. The first was &quot;Winter of Discontent&quot; which dealt with Egypt&#39;s 2011 uprising.</p><p>Waked was heavily involved in the street protests that eventually toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and also took part in the 2013 protests that led to the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.</p><p>The actor spoke to Reuters about his latest role and why more Arab talent is finding international success.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">Q: In your latest movie &quot;El Ott&quot; the themes are quite grim -- organ trafficking, street kids and gangsters. Do you feel the situation in Egypt&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">now is as sombre as the movie?</span></p><p>A: The problems in Egypt go way back, not just for the past three years since the revolution, they are for the past 60 years and for the years of colonisation before that. When you have all these years and a lot of the population learning from their parents before them to accept that they can&#39;t get more rights, it will take more than two or three years to convince them that they can ask for more and get more. But it will happen eventually.</p><p>Q: How does making foreign movies differ from making them back at home?</p><p>A: It is not different at all, especially when I am working on meaningful films like &quot;El Ott&quot; with Batout. Nationalities are not important. Cinema is one religion and I think all cinema people belong to this one religion and one family. I don&#39;t see it any other way.</p><p>Filming is like praying - you go in the morning you wash and dress up and get ready for the role and then you go in and do imaginary things in your head to be that role and then you come back out. It&#39;s always the same in every production no matter where you are in the world.</p><p>Q: Why do you think we are seeing a lot of Arab actors taking up parts in movies abroad?</p><p>A: Well, the world is getting smaller. I didn&#39;t have to go to Hollywood to act there like in Omar Sharif&#39;s time, for example. I&#39;m living in Cairo and go do my role and come back. I don&#39;t have to move there to do it. Also, the world is concerned with us now and looking for stories about Arabs so that is part of it. The young Arabs in the business are also very talented and they can see how they can be at par with the world much easier and much faster.</p><p>Q: What is your goal - more success abroad or at home?</p><p>A: My ultimate ambition is to make an Arab movie that is seen everywhere and makes hundreds of millions of dollars. That&#39;s the producer in me speaking.</p> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:57:00 +0000 Reuters 2439357 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/03/20/228/0_11.jpg Remains of ancient Pharaonic tomb found in Giza <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p dir="ltr">The Ministry of Antiquities announced Wednesday the discovery of remains of an ancient Pharaonic tomb at Meet Rahina, Giza, adding that excavations would start to get more details of the finding.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said a committee from the Giza antiquities department, in association with police, had been working jointly for three days to explore the site at Houd Zeleikha, unearthing nine ancient artifacts.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">But Ossama Karrar, a leader of a local coalition to protect antiquities, told <em>Al-Masry Al-Youm</em> that the citizen, under whose house the discovery was made, notified tourism police of the finding. He said the Ministry of Antiquities had no knowledge of the discovery beforehand, adding that the citizen had asked for his legal reward for the finding.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">Karrar said all items unearthed by the house&rsquo;s owner were delivered to authorities, adding that sewage vehicles drained water from the site before ministry agents unearthed five ancient paintings and a statue of King Thutmose III.</span></p><p><em><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</span></em></p><div>&nbsp;</div> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:30:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2439347 at sites/default/files/photo/2012/11/05/54605/by_kiki_nelson_2.jpg 'The Wanted 18': The cows who endangered Israeli national security <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Filmmakers Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan showed their mix of documentary and stop-motion animation in &quot;The Wanted 18&quot; documentary at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, after it closely competed for the best film award in Toronto Film Festival this year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The movie narrates a real story that happened during the First Intifada (1987-1993) over one of the resistance methods used by Palestinians in Beit Sahour city. The residents tried to rely on themselves to establish an independent economy through purchasing a herd of 18 cows to produce their needs of milk and its different derivatives, in order not to be under control of the Israelis when curfew and blockade are imposed. However, when Israeli army found out about the project, it decided it would destroy the farm and confiscate the cows, which had suddenly become a danger to the occupation security. The army then started looking for the cows, who were wanted by the Israeli occupation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The movie faces several challenges, starting from being a simple true story with not so many details, as well as an absence of scenes of the incidents. Making such film dependant on only witness accounts for 75 minutes could bore the viewer, even if the story was funny. However, the filmmakers were able to surpass that obstacle, offering it in a mix between cartoons, to show the dramatic and humorous side of the story, filmed scenes and documentary interviews with the heros. This places you before a different and excellent issue that smoothly takes you from one scene to another. Cartoon was the best part of the story, given that it entails humor, which made the filmmakers take advantage of this to involve the cows in the incidents. Irony was clear when cows learned to hate the Palestinians at the Israeli farm where they described them as &quot;Palestinian saboteurs.&quot; However, situation changed when they lived with the Palestinians and begun to sympathize with them, helping them in their attempts to hide.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The story also showed many forms of resistance that residents of the city lived, when they decided to adapt to the situations but through their own way, they were able to create a parallel society that is able to impose its lifestyle itself. It was a society that could coexist, despite harassment of the invaders. It also showed clear images of unity and resistance, which made them refuse to pay taxes for the occupation and adapt to the most difficult circumstances as kind of support for the intifada. The movie showed lack of power and weak intelligence of the occupation, which hung photos of the cows on the streets for being missing. It also broke into houses looking for the cows. The army&rsquo;s mission turned from search for terrorists to cows, which became a danger on the Israeli national security. The film mixes between the cows story and the daily suffering of Palestinians as a result of the occupation of the Israelis. Toward the end, the film showed that the occupation was able to destroy the farm project. At the same time, it showed the residents of the city destroyed by &ldquo;Oslo agreement&rsquo;, which came in time that they were &ldquo;kings who mastered their destinies,&rdquo; according to one of the testimonies. The movie also went back and forth between black-and-white and colored scenes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The voice over greatly contributed to adding the satirical comedy feature. It also preserved the comedic feature of the story,which started off with kind or irony against the occupation. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Shomali was able to employ his profession at the film, given that he holds a masters degree in animation. He had a comic book, stories and cartoon books for children. His first short movie was &lsquo;Dying of the light&rsquo; in 2008, before his first feature-length &ldquo;The Wanted 18.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Canadian Cowan is one of the most important documentaries directors. He was awarded several international prizes. The most important one was for his film Flamenco in 1983.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Shomali said that his film needed five years of work and that it faced many hardships like difficulty to access archives, as the Israeli occupation government refused to check it. Moreover, there was financial problems due to the high costs, which reached around US$1,200,000. Shomali said the project was blackmailed by the Le Centre national du cinéma et de l&#39;image animée (CNC) which accepted financing the movie, then stepped back saying that the director should be French.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Regarding his first experience, Shomali said that it was a lot of trouble making such a hard and technically-complicated film by a person who does not have previous experience in filmmaking.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:27:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2439324 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/10/29/39/wanted_18.jpg