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Latest in Culture


THE REEL ESTATE: The colliding worlds of Downtown

By Joseph Fahim Apart from Heliopolis, my beloved district that has been the subject of various recent films, no other neighborhood in Cairo is as diverse, complex and utterly fascinating as Downtown. Once the most affluent, most beautiful locality in Egypt, the face of Downtown, like most of the country, has radically changed over time; reflecting …

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Teen saga ‘Hunger Games’ hits big screen

By Anne Chaon / AFP Post-apocalyptic teen movie “The Hunger Games,” adapted from a bestselling fight-to-the-death novel, hits screens worldwide this week in one of the most-anticipated box office releases of the year. The film is based on the thriller of the same name by the US novelist Suzanne Collins, part of a trilogy that has …

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Archival materials shed light on archaeology’s golden age

By Maurice Chammah In one of the photographs presented by Christopher Naunton in his lecture at the British Council on Monday evening, clouds of dust hang over dozens of Egyptian laborers, digging in the brutal heat to excavate artifacts left behind by their ancestors thousands of years before. Their bosses, of course, were not Egyptian, and …

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Let’s talk about sax, baby

By Chitra Kalyani It’s the perfect weather for hommos el-sham along the Nile. The Egyptian delicacy keeps you warm while music issuing from the Sawy Culture Wheel warms the heart. They say music knows no boundaries and, we add, jazz knows even fewer. Entire heritages and legacies of notes coalesced and musicians and audience too intermingled …

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Cairo Symphony Orchestra fails, and then succeeds

By Maurice Chammah On Saturday evening, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra began their regular season concert with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Overture to The Impresario. Conductor Andreas Spörri led the orchestra through a short, light overture in C Major, which Mozart originally wrote to introduce a comic opera. The symphony sounded crisp and conservative, holding fast to the …

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Reclaiming the identity of the Syrian

By Marie-Jeanne Berger Egyptian art lovers are being offered a rare glimpse at contemporary Syrian art in the exhibition currently showing at Mashrabia Gallery. With little sign of abating, clashes between Syrian forces and protestors in Homs, Deraa and other cities have left a high number of civilians stuck in a deadlock in their struggle for …

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Gonzo in Puerto Rico

By Myriam Ghattas Hunter S. Thompson was one of those larger than life personas who flickered into our consciousness just long enough to challenge widely accepted social beliefs and alter the cerebral path of future generations. The man led a life of excess and wrote about it in autobiographical novels, articles and essays that captured …

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A showcase of Middle Eastern art in the Gulf

By Heba Elkayal It’s never been a more important time for art. As the region undergoes political upheaval and changes, we can look to artists too for commentary, thoughts and reactions to weigh in on our political realities. The case was true of Egyptian artists in the wake of the revolution. At Art Dubai, the yearly …

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Horse racing drama ‘Luck’ proved too real for HBO

By Lynn Elber / AP Horse racing has long withstood the deaths of its skittish, injury-prone thoroughbreds. Hollywood proved it lacks the stomach for it. HBO abruptly canceled its racetrack drama series “Luck” this past week after three horses used in the production were injured and euthanized during 10 months of filming over the last two …

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Puremovement stops in Egypt for a week of hip hop mania

By Maha ElNabawi The worlds of hip hop music and dance merged into a melody of artistic expression last week when the internationally acclaimed Rennie Harris Puremovement Dance Company (RHPM) visited Egypt in a cross-cultural exchange program aimed at preserving and disseminating the hip hop culture globally. The program is a collaborative effort between the US …

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Music that survives: Cairo Jazz Fest in year four

By Chitra Kalyani Alive is how you feel at the Cairo Jazz Fest, with the music ringing loud and clear across the Nile that flows alongside Sawy Culture Wheel in Zamalek. Yet, the foreword on the festival brochure begins on a more somber note. Quoting German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous adage – “That which doesn’t kill …

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70s music revisited in varied SXSW documentaries

By Jake Coyle / AP Whether reggae, soft rock, hardcore punk or power pop, the music of the 70s is playing again at South By Southwest. Several of the many music documentaries at this year’s SXSW revisit acts from the decade, a time often skipped over in pop culture history. But for that same reason, the …

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Artists slam Cairo University ban of Iranian film

By AFP CAIRO: Egyptian artists have condemned a decision by Cairo University to ban the screening of an Oscar-winning Iranian film under pressure from Islamist students who said it propagates Shia ideas. The Front for Creativity, a coalition calling for freedom of expression in the arts, said the decision to ban “A Separation” was a …

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Degas’ nudes make splash at Paris Orsay museum

By Pascale Mollard-Chenebenoit / AFP An exhibition by French painter Edgar Degas opens this week at the Paris Orsay museum, with some 170 paintings, prints and sculptures focusing exclusively on female nudes. His paintings of women bathing and prostitutes eyeing potential customers concentrate on the body rather than any facial features, with later works turning nearly …

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Buzz bands seek to cut through chaos of SXSW

By Chris Talbott / AP Members of the ascendant rock band Alabama Shakes can tell you all about buzz in the 21st century. They first read about themselves on the internet about nine months ago. They began playing in packed houses for enthusiastic fans after putting out a hastily released EP just six months ago. …

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Cairo Jazz Festival suggests, ‘Egypt is Fine’

By Maha ElNabawi The annual Cairo Jazz Festival is upon us, and its organizer Amro Salah promises that jazz will pervade the city for three consecutive days with a series of live concerts, educational workshops and jam sessions. Marking its fourth annual year, the international Cairo Jazz Festival (CJF) will kick-off on Thursday, March 15, and …

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A novelist’s memories of revolution in Cairo

By Maurice Chammah I did not fully appreciate novelist Ahdaf Soueif’s new memoir “Cairo: My City, Our Revolution” until I read portions of the text out loud. Some of Soueif’s longer sentences are scarcely readable in one breath, and only when you try to squeeze them into a single gust of air and run out halfway …

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Satire on capitalism at Rawabet

By Tom Dale “Gasping” is none too subtle but easily enjoyable satire on unbridled corporate greed, which is now coming to the end of its second run at the Rawabet Theatre in downtown Cairo. If you can catch its last night — and aren’t easily offended by repeated jokes about the genitalia of elephants — it’s …

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10 die near Luxor while digging for ancient treasures

By AFP CAIRO: Ten people were killed when the soil caved in on them as they were illegally digging for ancient treasures under a house in an Upper Egyptian village, police officials told AFP on Monday. The 10, including four brothers, were buried alive when the walls of the dig collapsed in the village of Arab …

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‘Tank Girl’: A failed, tired exercise in shock tactics

By Mariam Hamdy Currently showing at Misr Gallery in Zamalek is the much anticipated, hugely buzzed about exhibit “Tank Girl” by Nadine Hammam. Art lovers were looking forward to the usually controversial works of Hammam, particularly in light of the liberal versus conservative discourse that has preoccupied intellectual circuits. Few exhibits of late have created the …

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Rome’s Coliseum reveals secret history of women

By AFP ROME: The Coliseum in Rome held a special tour to mark Women’s Day on Thursday, exploring the famous monument’s feminine angle — from female gladiators to noblewomen in love with the arena fighters. “From senators’ wives to humbler women, many were crazy about gladiators. They were like footballers today,” said Lucilla Rossi, a …

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Monkees star Davy Jones mourned in private funeral

By Matt Sedensky / AP Monkees singer Davy Jones was remembered in a small private Florida funeral as a laid-back daydreamer who brought fans into a world blissfully free of worries. The service was held behind locked doors Wednesday at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Indiantown, close to Jones’ home and next to Hope Rural School, …

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The real lives behind new hit book on Mumbai slums

By Ben Sheppard / AFP In her Mumbai shack, Manju Waghekar wonders if she will regret revealing the grim secrets of corruption, alcoholism and death among her friends and family for a searing new book on life in an Indian slum. Manju, 23, is a central figure in “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” a true story that …

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At SXSW media zoo, convergence is annual buzz word

By Jake Coyle / AP Increasingly, the media zoo that is SXSW looks more like today’s overlapping media world. The annual South by Southwest Conference and Festival, which begins Friday, gathers thousands of creators, performers, media and industry members for 10 days onto the boozy downtown streets of Austin, Texas. It’s really three festivals — Interactive, …

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Cuba’s sculptor of the stars can’t quit tobacco

By Jean-Herve Deiller / AFP Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, Jack Nicholson, Groucho Marx and Arnold Schwarzenegger — meet the cast of notables Janio Nunez has sculpted entirely out of Cuba’s famed tobacco. The Cuban sculptor uses the same sticky leaves and time-honored rolling techniques that go into the famed cigars enjoyed by his subjects, and which …

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THE REEL ESTATE: The magic lantern, the silent wizard and me

By Joseph Fahim What was the very first movie you’ve ever seen? Mine was Victor Fleming’s classic musical “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland. I was probably four years old. The film was showing on TV and I remember being transfixed for its entire duration. I gasped when the muted sepia-tinted Kansas suddenly gave way …

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Franco, Cornish among those with films at Tribeca

By Jake Coyle / AP This year’s Tribeca Film Festival will feature many domestically oriented movies that deal with contentious contemporary issues, from the recession to James Franco’s artistic antics. Tribeca announced the first half of its slate for this year’s festival Tuesday: 46 feature films out of a planned 90. This half includes entries in …

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That’s seriously funny: Comics tackle tough issues

By Matt Moore / AP There are wedding bells in Riverdale, but it’s not Archie and Betty or Veronica. It’s Army Lt. Kevin Keller and the physical therapist who helped him overcome his war wound — Clay Walker. Meanwhile, in the comics pages, Gil is an 8-year-old boy being raised by his divorced factory-working mom, and …

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Fluxus in Giza: Rana ElNemr and explorations of process

By Marie-Jeanne Berger “I see long streams, which are heavy, strong, dark and constant … I find them abstract, and rather incomprehensible, flowing recklessly most of the times. I call them ‘currents.’ And I see finer streams. They are shorter in length and momentary in nature, but they come in greater numbers and they carry music, …

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‘Lost’ novel by dead Nobel laureate published

By Gabriel Rubio / AFP A “lost” novel by Portuguese Nobel literature laureate Jose Saramago which he wrote in the 1950s before he achieved international acclaim has been published nearly two years after his death. Saramago sent the manuscript for “Claraboya,” which tells the tale of residents of a Lisbon apartment building, through a friend to …

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