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Latest in Culture


Clooney opens Venice film festival with political thriller

Hollywood star George Clooney opened a star-studded Venice film festival on Wednesday with the world premiere of his political thriller "The Ides of March" based around a US presidential campaign. Hundreds of fans crowded round as a tux-wearing Clooney, who strode down the red carpet and signed autographs after cruising the watery city on a …

DNE

A state of trance with Aly & Fila

By Maha ElNabawi Egyptian DJ duo Aly & Fila are a bona fide phenomenon. Arguably the most internationally successful electronic DJ and production collective Egypt has ever produced, the powerhouse pair are more than your average DJs. With a booming new record label and a syndicated radio show, both titled “Future Sound of Egypt,” alongside an …

DNE

Ether and earth: Susheela Raman

By Chitra Kalyani One evening at Geneina Theater, like a many-headed Indian deity, Susheela Raman showed her many facets. Her songs are borrowed from covers of Western rock to traditions in Southern India that worship the mountain god “Muruga.” While singing her own songs, Raman enters into the same ecstatic trance of the celebration whose music …

DNE

Brazil’s blind ballet dancers find stride

With a lost look, a group of dancers hold the bare as they practice plies, twists and turns, as their teacher corrects their posture with a gentle touch. Learning is slow and arduous, requiring much patience from ballerina Fernanda Bianchini, 32, who is trying to convey the beauty of the discipline to the students, who …

DNE

Another star is born in the East

By Chitra Kalyani What was Om Kolthoum like when she was young? If Nai Barghouti has already evoked a comparison with the Egyptian legend, one wonders where the 14-year-old will be in a few years time. The shy smile with which Barghouti receives audience applause is a surprising contradiction to the voice of a young woman …

DNE

Life imitates art in ‘living’ paintings

By AFP Alexa Meade does make paintings of people, but on people. The 24-year-old self-taught artist paints over people so that they look like paintings, then photographs them either in a natural setting or with a painted background. Her works on display at the Irvine Contemporary Gallery in Washington, includes one of a man under …

DNE

Romance rules Philippine literary charts

In the fantasy world created by Philippine publishing giant Precious Hearts Romances, the men are rich, sexual promiscuity and homosexuals are taboo, and the story always ends happily after 128 pages. The ultra-cheap local versions of Britain’s Mills and Boon novels are the country’s most popular books, making their authors champions of conservative Christian values …

DNE

A splendid showcase of Sameh Ismail’s abstract calligraphy

Although Sameh Ismail has been active in the local art scene for the last 10 years, his work has never really gotten the attention it deserves, until now. In association with the Zamalek Art Gallery, The Kempinski Hotel is currently holding an exhibition by Ismail. Ismail is essentially a calligraphist, distinguished for paintings and sketches …

DNE

25 years on, ‘Graceland’ reigns as world music pioneer

If every generation throws a hero up the pop charts, Paul Simon has been twice anointed, first as a 1960s folk-rock icon, then as world music emissary with "Graceland," the landmark album he released 25 years ago this month. Stung by a second failed marriage and looking for a way to boost his flagging career, …

DNE

Egypt inspired people to change things: An interview with Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid

How do Israel’s protests look from where you are in Egypt? These protests have raised some interest in Egypt. On the one hand, some people consider the protests to be the inevitable outcome of [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu’s policies of stressing the importance of military expenditures and expansion of settlements. Besides this, Netanyahu has …

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Lessons from an unfinished revolution

By Aida Nasr “This revolution is far from over.” That’s the dynamic message of “Lessons in Revolting,” a theater performance currently showing at the intimate setting of the Rawabet Space for Arts in Downtown Cairo. Co-directors Laila Soliman from Egypt and Ruud Gielens of Belgium have created a challenging, thought provoking play that portrays the Jan. …

DNE

Franco-Chilean cineaste Raoul Ruiz dead at 70

Franco-Chilean director Raoul Ruiz died Friday in a Paris hospital of a lung infection, cutting short a career that was still producing poetic cinematic marvels in his 70th year. Ruiz’s "Mistérios de Lisboa" (Mysteries of Lisbon), a four-and-a-half hour saga about the life of the 19th century Portuguese aristocracy, was last year acclaimed by critics …

DNE

Revolutionary tips from Tunisia’s Badiaa Bouhrizi

By Maha ElNabawi Subtle seeds of change have started to blossom through the liberation of artistic expression, since former Tunisian president Zine Al-Abdine Bin Ali’s ousting in January. Cue Badiaa Bouhrizi — the underground Tunisian singer/songwriter whose Ethno-musical positions reflect passionate socio-political convictions and the dilemma of personal freedom. Bouhrizi, who performed this past Thursday in …

DNE

‘Blaise go!’, a favorite refrain for two Burkina musicians

A rapper and a reggae artist, two leading Burkina Faso musicians belt out similar lyrics to different beats: "Blaise, go!" — their favorite refrain is a dig at the long-standing president. Smockey, with an Afro ‘do’, and dreadlocked Samsklejah are pushing change in Burkina Faso, where protests this year led many to believe President Blaise …

DNE

Mixed impressions at El-Borsaiedy’s calligraphy exhibit

Currently showing at the Picasso gallery in Zamalek is a calligraphy exhibition by artist Khodeir El-Borsaiedy. Calligraphy is a tricky form of art, since for the average layman, it may not be considered ‘art’ per say. People usually take for granted the effort required to properly transcript everything from the Quran and store signs to …

DNE

ICoast museum mourns stolen artifacts

By Christophe Koffi/ AFP Bullet holes pock the vault door and empty display boxes litter the showroom floor of Abidjan’s Museum of Civilization, robbed of 100 ancient artifacts under the cover of deadly conflict in April. “A piece of our history has been wiped out,” museum director Silvie Memel Kassi laments of the collection’s lost crown …

DNE

Sufi Qawwali: Song of the soul

“There is God between me and every breath that I take.” With such profound lyrics and enchanting music, the fourth edition of the Sufi Music and Chanting Festival got off to a captivating start. Eleven troupes from 11 different countries, with different styles of singing and disparate rhythm, scale and even language, came together to …

DNE

Gospel joins nasheeds at Sufi Fest

“Man is the homeland, and the homeland is man.” With this humanistic slogan, Entesar Abd El Fatth, director of El-Ghouri Center for Musical Heritage opens the fourth Samaa International Festival for Sufi Music and Chanting in Cairo on Monday. A variety of nasheeds (Islamic religious and praise songs) from around the world are featured in …

DNE

Subway expansion digs up Roman city under Sofia

By Diana Simeonova / AFP Cars zoom by on the boulevards overhead as work progresses on expanding the subway underneath —and in between a full-fledged Roman city has emerged right in the heart of the Bulgarian capital. Archaeologists have little by little unearthed well-preserved stretches of cobbled Roman streets, a public bath, the ruins of a …

DNE

Bikya Book Café: A book pub for geeks

“It’s the living room one aspires for but never has,” said one client. “It’s a geek’s pub,” said another — and that succinctly summarizes that mood and feel of Bikya Book Café. Since opening in early January, Bikya Book Café has become more than what its five young female founders intended. It is not simply …

DNE

Money woes could shutter Edgar Allan Poe house

The house where American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe lived in poverty for several years in the 1800s, and which now serves as a museum, could soon be forced to close its doors for evermore. For the second year running, the house, situated off the beaten path in a poor part of Baltimore, in …

DNE

Bollywood actor Shammi Kapoor: India’s Elvis

Shammi Kapoor, who died on Sunday aged 79, was India’s Elvis Presley, a gyrating, swivel-hipped actor who revitalized Bollywood’s song-and-dance sequences with a modern, racy style. As one of the Kapoor acting dynasty that has dominated Hindi-language cinema virtually since its inception, he was perhaps always destined to be famous. But it was his dancing …

DNE

A little bit of Spanish love

By Maha ElNabawi Outfitted in funky-ethnic jewelry, dreadlocks, and a bohemian aura — Spanish singer Araceli Muñoz and her band, Ara Musa Honra, entertained Cairenes with musical messages of love and positivity this past Thursday at Al-Azhar Park’s Geneina Theater. The concert was the opening performance of Al Mawred Al Thaqafy’s annual Hayy festival. Before interviewing …

DNE

New Bollywood film stokes caste controversy

A new Bollywood film tackling the thorny issue of caste quotas in Indian government jobs and education is released this week in the face of vocal protests from minorities. Politicians and interest groups championing low-caste Hindus and other marginalized groups that the system is designed to help have come out in force against "Aarakshan" (Reservation). …

DNE

‘Anne of Green Gables’ boosts Canadian island

By Michel Viatteau/ AFP A fictional red-headed orphan, whose adventures were penned a century ago, is proving a tourist boon to a corner of Canada, even drawing the attentions of Prince William’s new bride, Catherine. “Anne of Green Gables,” the Canadian novel by author Lucy Maud Montgomery, has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide since …

DNE

The architectural insights of Amir Wahib

The most striking aspect of Amir Wahib’s exhibition, “Architectural Insight,” is the contrast in his work. Some paintings are exact and almost look as though they had been drawn with a ruler, while others are much gentler, with bold colors and blends. Wahib’s work has been exhibited all over the world; in Egypt, the US …

DNE

World divas to light Geneina’s Ramadan nights

Chance had it that all the stars in the first Hayy program in 2006 were female. But the success of the first program set the trend for coming years, according to Charles Akl, co-coordinator at the Al-Mawred Al Thaqafy that now organizes the yearly Ramadan program. “One of the main aims” of the festival, said …

DNE

Religious TV series garner viewership, controversy

  “Al-Hassan wal Hussein” can be classified as yet another historical and religious TV series, but the increasingly popular TV series breaks a religious taboo, once thought untouchable in the Arab world: depicting the Prophet’s family.   It isn’t the first. Last year, TV channels aired the Iranian-produced “Yusuf El-Seddiq,” chronicling the life of Prophet …

DNE

One-on-one with Norwegian Wood’ director Anh Hung Tran

No other Vietnamese filmmaker has come close to matching the critical and commercial success that greeted the films of Anh Hung Tran. With his first two pictures, Tran earned Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion prize, the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival and a César. Every new project of his has become an …

DNE

Folk singer Hassan El-Asmar dies at 52

  CAIRO: Popular Egyptian folk singer Hassan El-Asmar died Sunday at age 52 in Cleopatra Hospital from a fatal heart attack.   His funeral was held at the Noor Mosque in Abbasiya. Born in the southern governorate of Qena in 1959, El-Asmar rose to stardom in the late 1980s with a string of hits such …

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