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Latest in Culture


Impressive 1,000 maps leading to nowhere

By Mariam Hamdy The Palace of Arts at the Cairo Opera House has inaugurated its latest exhibition, a colossal one man show titled “Memory Maps” by Ashraf Ibrahim on Monday. The opening was quite the happening, with the minister of Culture Dr. Emad Abou Ghazi in attendance as well as the staff of the Austrian embassy. …

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Director Polley examines collapse of a marriage

Divorced and recently remarried director Sarah Polley showed moviegoers an unhappy woman at the end of a relationship in her new film "Take This Waltz," which premiered at the Toronto film festival on Sunday. She insists, however, that the film is not autobiographical. The script was actually hatched on the set of her directorial debut …

DNE

Sokurov: The censored conscience of Russian film

Venice film festival winner Alexander Sokurov has remained an enigma in Russia whose art nearly landed him in a Soviet prison and who was only kept in his country by the beauty of the Hermitage. The 60-year-old Siberian with the penetrating gaze and uninhibited camera began to develop a reputation for poetic but severe work …

DNE

The shallow, misleading revolution of “Thawret El Looool”

I was somewhat surprised not to have heard of the latest publication discussing the contemporary Egyptian art scene released this past August. A book titled “Thawret El Looool: Chats with Young Egyptian Artists” written by Mariam Elias, aims to create links between young contemporary artists, their work and the generation to which they belong. Furious …

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Death and fear in Venice as the film festival winds up

Darkness descends on Venice as the film festival draws to a close, with tales of brutality, callousness, chilling indifference and failed relationships all vying for the Golden Lion award. With only one red carpet to go, festivities in the floating city are winding up, the stream of wild parties with star guests over, as the …

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Toronto film fest mixes stars, music, Oscar bait

There’s a broader vibe than the usual Hollywood A-listers this year at the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the world’s top cinema showcases and a prelude for contenders at the Academy Awards. Stars such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Glenn Close, Robert De Niro and Viggo Mortensen are on the …

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‘Himizu’: love and madness in post-tsunami Japan

By Ella Ide / AFP VENICE: Love gasps for air in Japanese director Sion Sono’s anguished portrait of a post-tsunami Japan in “Himizu,” the hotly anticipated adaptation of a manga novel competing for Venice’s Golden Lion. Haunting images of devastation among the ruins of Ishinomaki in northern Japan after the March 11 disaster set the scene …

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‘4:44 Last Day on Earth’: End it all or stay and watch?

By Ella Ide / AFP As the ozone layer disintegrates and the world prepares for certain doom in “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” man is left with just one question: ‘to be or not to be?’, to commit suicide or stay and watch? Hamlet’s philosophical quandary plagues New Yorker Cisco, the protagonist in US independent filmmaker …

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Spies and drop-outs in Venice for the Golden Lion

By Ella Ide / AFP Spies, torture and betrayal have come to Venice with Tomas Alfredson’s cold war thriller, “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy” — an espionage whodunit, without a James Bond gadget or femme fatale in sight. The Swedish director’s adaptation of John le Carré ‘s bestselling novel peers into the dark heart of “the Circus” …

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Arnold premiers ‘Wuthering Heights’ in Venice

British director Andrea Arnold describes her experience creating a new film version of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’s only novel and 250-year-old literary phenomenon, as "a very difficult journey" but one which she couldn’t abandon. The result, in which the character of Heathcliff is portrayed by a black actor for the first time on the big …

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Venice: Greek film ‘Alps’ explores grief

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, "Alps," proposes a novel, if disquieting, technique for grief counseling. "Alps" is the name chosen to designate an ad-hoc group whose members stand in for deceased loved ones, purportedly to help the grieving through the transition. The first four sessions are free of charge. So, a blind woman hires …

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You call that a revolution?

By Joseph Fahim The very first Egyptian film I reviewed was “Katkout,” the 2006 Mohamed Saad star-vehicle that became the former king of comedy’s last bona-fide commercial hit. In the years since, I’ve grown to regard mainstream cinema in a different light, driven by an interest in what the story, choice of mise-en-scène and characterization say …

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Women steal the show at Venice film festival

From the red carpet to the big screen, women are dazzling at this year’s Venice Film Festival with the key roles going to female stars who amaze with glamour and sheer chutzpah. Pop diva Madonna crazed the island when she sauntered down the celebrity runway in a striking Vionnet dress with red butterfly motif and …

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McQueen launches sex-addict film ‘Shame’ in Venice

For British director Steve McQueen, there was no better place than Manhattan to film "Shame," his new film that portrays the life of a 30-something sex addict, played by Michael Fassbender in often graphic detail. "Excess and access. New York is the place," McQueen said ahead of his second film’s world premiere in competition at …

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Chastain inspired Pacino’s ‘Wilde Salome’

Al Pacino’s movie "Wilde Salome" is a complicated examination of Oscar Wilde’s once-forbidden play about illicit love and revenge. But his inspiration was simple: Jessica Chastain. "There is Jessica Chastain, who I really believe is the reason I made the movie," Pacino said ahead of the film’s long-awaited world premiere in a side event at …

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Polanski’s ‘Carnage’ wows critics in Venice

Rounds of applause and riotous laughter met Roman Polanski’s grotesque comedy of manners "Carnage" at the press screening in Venice. The screen adaptation of playwright Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed Broadway play "The God of Carnage," Polanski’s film tells the tale of two sets of parents who meet up to talk after their children get into a …

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Taiwan’s warrior epic “Seediq Bale” runs for the Lion

Warrior cries and brutal decapitations color the opening scenes in Wei Te-Sheng’s "Seediq Bale," the fierce Taiwanese epic running against Hollywood favorites for the Golden Lion award at Venice this year. With a record production cost of $24 million, "Seediq Bale" brings to the big screen the true story about a rebellion of aboriginal tribes …

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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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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. …

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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 …

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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 …

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