The excursion to the cinema commences with my fellow Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy fans, yes everyone has a thing and The Hunger Games books were just too addictive to put down, I am not ashamed to admit it. (Also the young adult fiction genre is just too good of a label not to be part of). One year after the first film, the same crowd is gathered again waiting in anticipation to view Catching Fire armed with mixed popcorn and the best seats in the house; we wait for those games to begin.
I shall not get into the nitty-gritties of the film and what it is about because in all honesty most of the people going to see it will not need any more encouragement, loyal fans have already jam packed this theatre and there are a lot more along the way. All you need to know is yes there is another battle but this time and as with big blockbuster hits there was no budget spared in the making, a definite upgrade to say the least especially when it came to the ‘designs’ set by the ever so cool Lenny Kravitz. The film is entertaining, albeit a little too long it feeds into all the imagination that one envisions when you read the stories, I liked this part more than the first because I like the story and will feel the same when the next installment comes through bigger and better than the last one. This is the thing with trilogies of this sort and with genres like these, for this category these films work and audiences love and will continue to love them.
They cannot be compared to those deep drama filled stories or indie flicks or even your marvel blockbusters, these films are particular and just like the Harry Potter phenomenon (I am not comparing, nothing will ever beat Harry Potter) these stories have the same impact with their audiences and they will possess a similar following and loyalty, they will always be popular and you will always lose the criticism battle. Now go see the movie you fellow fans and ‘may the odds be ever in your favor’. My very biased rating: 7.9/10.
It is normal to go to a film festival and watch lots of movies - it is always disappointing when you miss some of the movies you really wanted to see.
We missed My Sweet Pepper Land starring the amazing Golshifteh Farahani and directed by Hiner Salim. We are kicking ourselves but the scheduling just was against us!
We saw many movies and we decided that there are so many reviews and interviews out there that we would share the questions we would like to ask the directors instead!
We will start with the one we did not see as we had a burning question for Hiner which is “did he have anyone other than Golshifteh in mind for the role?”
For the others, here goes:
Question for In the Sands of Babylon director Mohammed Al-Daradji:
“How can you reconcile between the violence and the brutality of the scenes and the poetry of the dialogue especially in the window scene in the prison?”
“Why did you feel you needed your fictional characters to die and not survive as witnesses as a Abdul, a Bassim and a Jabar in the true story ?”
Question for Rags and Tatters director Ahmad Abdalla:
“Why did you choose to show your character walking the streets so often? He is always physically going somewhere and metaphorically getting nowhere – is that deliberate?”
Question for Life of Crime director Daniel Schechter:
“Did you ever consider making the film a total comedy?”
Question for the director of Cairo Drive, Sherief Elkatsha
“One of your characters says, driving round Cairo has taught him patience – what has making this movie taught you about human nature?”
Question for Giraffada director Rani Massalha:
“We love the story and it’s a great title for the film too – the last scene, where the Giraffa is walking through the wall and the streets of the city, is extremely powerful and symbolic – how challenging was it to do and how did you do it?”
Question for Villa 69 director Ayten Amin:
“There are many characters in the story – each one is a foil to different elements of Hussein’s personality. Did you feel, at any point that there were too many characters?”
If you have any questions for any of the films you saw, please add them. Sometimes, it’s good to know what people want to ask!
Meet our Guest Blogger TANYA who will be writing movie reviews for Aflamnah and giving you a dose of her very special popcorn and frozen Fanta! (Tanya came up with the title!)
08.11.13 Last Vegas
I was going for an attempt to find something interesting to see amongst all the blockbuster clutter. Ideally I wanted a cheesy rom com but opted for a ‘comedy’. This genre is sadly overused in Hollywood that I kind of knew that this was the kind of film that sums up all the ‘funny’ from the trailer. It didn’t matter I was there and so was my popcorn. The story is about 4 childhood friends that get together in Vegas for one of their bachelor party weekend. Pretty much ‘The Hangover’ story without Mr. Chow hiding in the trunk and so on. This is 58years later and the childhood friends are in their 60s, which is all fine except when the jokes become repetitive and the forceful bout of drama kicks in.
The cast is very good I will not deny that; Kline, DeNiro, Douglas and Freeman, they really struck gold with those four. It just wasn’t the story that could keep you interested for more than 30 minutes. A lot of slapstick humor and Vegas glam make for a fragmented story that I seemed to have forgotten already. Apart from the few, very few lines from DeNiro and those priceless facial expressions, it was no where near what I had anticipated and so I will not bore you with more information on the uninteresting plot. I will only rate as best I know how with a measly 4.8/10.
First and foremost, Alfonso Cuarón, that alone should warrant some kind of reaction, he brought us films like: Y Tu Mamá También and if that doesn’t work for you then try, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the list goes on and it is very impressive.
This writer/director/cinematographer/producer is a jack of all trades, and with his latest feat ‘Gravity’ he doesn’t make it easy for us to point out the flaws, it is after all set in space.
This film is truly a visual feast, don’t bother whining about the fact that you wear glasses and 3D is just annoying, suck it up and see it only in 3D or IMAX, it will keep you at the edge of your seat, you will ignore the fact that Sandra Bullock may not be your favorite actress and you will marvel at the fact that astronauts are incredible and what they do is surreal and best of all, outer space will leave you speechless and make you feel very very small. Happy viewing!
What is it about music that marks us so much?
We have been listening to music by Edith Piaff and Charles Aznavour ahead of tonight’s concert at the Allinace Francaise in Dubai and totally struck by how music transports us to a different time and place. What’s more surprising is it is not always easy to explain why it evokes certain seasons, people, tastes, emotions. I noted what images "Je ne regrette Rien" brought to my mind and I share them here.. some are totally obvious but others not so much:
Music creates a response within us…even in the Middle Ages, certain musical chords, when played together were referred to as the Devil’s Chords and musicians have long known that the placement of certain musical notes together can create pleasure or pain.
What is your pleasure? What is your pain?
Why am I writing this post, you may be wondering? Well, as a crowdfudning platform, we think musicians are so talented and under served in our part of the world We’d love you all to let your musician firends know that if they would like to record a single, an album or make a video, crowdfunding could be an opportunity for them!
There are currently a few films that are doing really well on the festival circuit and among them three Palestinian films that we wanted to take our hats off to and celebrate their success!
OMAR by Hany Abu Assad - world premiere was at Cannes Film Festival and was selected for Toronto international Film Festival
MY LOVE AWAITS ME BY THE SEA by Mais Darwazah - screened at Toronto International Film Festival
PALESTINE STEREO by Rashid Masharawi
Also screened at Toronto International Film Festival and is likely to be selected for the Dubai International Film Festival
WISHING YOU ALL EVERY SUCCESS!
Hello filmmakers and fellow creatives!
I’m Jinan Coulter, a Palestinian documentary filmmaker and I just recently ran a successful 30 day campaign on Aflamnah for my film, Searching for Saris. I reached my original goal in just over a third of the time, and then added a stretch target to raise further funds – raising a total of $19,330!
I wanted to share a few tips on how I approached the campaign, in the hope that it might help you in getting your project funded.
The first thing I did was to make a list of everybody I knew that I could approach about the campaign – EVERYBODY: close friends and family, but also acquaintances and peers in my networks who I thought might be interested in my film and its subject matter.
It’s very important to think about your target audiences – not just personal contacts and friends, but everybody and anybody who may find your project relevant to what they do or to their interests.
My list had a column of names, a second column for check marks to keep tabs of who I emailed, and a third column to check off each person who donated. That way I could effectively manage who I was reaching out to and focus on expanding that list as donations came through.
I always made a point of sending direct and personal emails to people (at least initially). I know how easy it is to overlook an impersonal, mass email that comes into your inbox, so this is very important. It also encourages the other person to reply and take it seriously.
When I sent out emails, I would always say that I was asking people for contributions (where they felt they could donate), but also for their help in getting the word out about the campaign to their networks (and always asked them to share the link!). This was critical in getting exposure to a much wider layer of people. The more networks you can tap into, the higher your chances of reaching your goal.
Social media was very important in keeping up the profile of the campaign. I regularly shared the project link with updates, both on my film’s Facebook page, but also on my personal profile.
I also posted to relevant Facebook pages and groups and tweeted directly to key Twitter accounts, asking people to RT. Before you know it, your campaign will start picking up momentum.
If you have a Facebook page for your project or film, regularly adding interesting and relevant content will also keep the interest going!
Also, be upfront about what you need people’s donations for – will it determine whether or not your project gets realized? Or in the case of my film, will it enable you to complete your project in time to reach a particular festival etc? People want to feel that they are making a real difference and a valuable contribution.
My number one tip though? DON’T let the campaign slip. Not even for a day!
It is very rare that a project - simply by being on a crowd-funding website - will generate enough interest and exposure on its own without you actively pushing it. So keep at it - it will definitely pay off in the end.
One of the many great things about Aflamnah is that whatever you raise, you keep! That’s already a huge plus in the crowd-funding world – so take heart, and best of luck with your campaign!
Check out Jinan’s project and pitch vvideo: http://www.aflamnah.com/en/searching-for-saris/
What a wonderful discovery. Ashamed to say that I was not very familiar with him, his story or his work but all three were an incredible discovery today at the Tate Modern. I am no expert when it comes to art but something that provokes questions or thoughts or answers in a pleasing way is always welcome inspiration.
In Ibrahim El-Salahi we found the thoughts flowing through our mind were related to color, the materials used, the beauty of the ink on plywood and how much more color stood out because of its rarity.
We were also asking questions: what is the significance of the recurring bird theme and the emerging cobwebs that seem to come and go? Was he inspired by Picasso? Is the brown reminiscent of Sudan - is it a positive memory? Is that the predominant color when he thinks of Sudan? or is it more than that?
We also wondered whether all the amazing sketches were as spontaneous as they seemed? Was the ink work perfect from the first go and was that a union jack in the flamenco painting done last year which sadly we do not have an image of to share.
We left inspired! And we left thinking his art reminds us of Picasso and his talent is just as great. And our parting thought was that it felt right that most of the art in the exhibition was the artist’s own collection - but the museums are buying and Doha already boasts several of his artworks as does the Tate.
Well worth a visit to the Tate Modern before 22 September.
Image use courtesy of Tate Modern website.
The world premiere of OMAR was a much anticipated event in Cannes. Palestinian films have been attracting a lot of attention - sometimes for the wrong reasons as Emad Bornat found out on his way to the Oscar ceremony - but in OMAR’s case it was for all the right reasons and not only because this is the much anticipated film following Paradise Now.
By now, you have probably read all the reviews and know that it is a love story set against the backdrop of the occupation and a big ugly wall. For us, the standing ovation was won for the director and amazing cast on two counts: the intense attraction between the the two young protagonists (Leen Labany who is only 16 years old and Adam Bakri who is one to watch) is palpable and a tribute to Hany’s skill.
Thoroughly enjoyable, brilliant and deserves to have won the Jury Prize in the prestigious Un Certain Regard section.
For more about the film itself, this tells it nicely: http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/film/hany-abu-assads-omar-entertainment-with-a-twist-at-cannes
We’re going to be watching this film and how many awards it wins!
Away from the rain, the glitz and the glamour of the Cannes red carpet, away from the flashes and the symphony of click, click, clicks emanating from the multi-national multitude of vulture-like photographers perching precariously on their chained and named aluminum steps and ladders, one can find the cinematic totem. On one of the man made pillars that support the massive Palais building where deals are done and dreams are made there is a place called the Short Corner. At the heart of this spot, you find a visual modern carving made up of images, titles, colours and dreams. Every little poster or postcard tells a story, celebrates its director’s creativity and vision, a commemoration of one’s first steps on the long road to cinematic success or failure. Each short film jostling for space on this display that gets drawn daily by invisible hands that picks, arranges, reads and takes away what they like and fancy. This is a daily ritual at the Short Corner together with the 4pm conferences. We were in Cannes to take part in the Crowdfunding Conference with other major global platforms including American Kickstarter and French Touscoprod. We had a very engaged and eager audience: the Crowdfunders of tomorrow and more importantly the cultural heroes of our cinema.
Among this cinematic collage composed of symbolic reminders of quarrels, murders, love, friendship, betrayal, relationships and hope, I spotted a familiar title: Abu Rami. Sabah Haider’s short film that crowdfunded on Aflamnah and has had a fantastic run on the festival circuit far and wide and has hopefully made it easier for Sabah to gain momentum for her first feature Beirut Solo being produced by Sabine Sidawi. Crowdfunding makes it possible to be a part of other people’s successes and we certainly felt proud to be a tiny part of Sabah’s story.
Saturday 13th April was a hectic day. It was bang in the middle of the Gulf Film Festival and we were invited to the Gulf Nights midnight session that is a GFF tradition! We were talking crowdfunding and Aflamnah of course!
But before that, we had also been invited to do our very first Pechakucha in Sharjah. If anyone reading this is not familiar with Pechakucha then the idea is to do a presentation of 20 slides and you only have 20 seconds for each slide - so we had 6 minutes and 40 seconds to present crowdfunding to Sharjah!! The setting was amazing - it was outdoors in the Maraya Art Park which in itself was an adventure in a beautiful setting - check it out here http://www.maraya.ae/artpark/! It was a great crowd but it was tough to be so restricted with timing.
We then quickly rushed across town to the neighbouring emirate Dubai and to GFF HQ at Festival City for our Gulf Nights session which was covered extensively in the media including this article which we liked: http://arabiangazette.com/crowdfunding-arab-world-20130412/. Great audience, fantastic questions and we made some new friends and grew the Aflamnah family a bit more.
GFF week offered some absolute brilliant films. Our personal favourite of the ones we saw was the short by Erfan Rachid, I Was There, In Baghdad (pictured below)- it explores the filmmaker’s grief for the Baghdad he knew told from an original perspective. If you get the chance to see it, take a box of tissues. but it’s a must see. For other gems from the Gulf, we recommend you read this Huffington Post article bu Nina Rothe (Aflamnah is mentioned by the way!) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/e-nina-rothe/ten-gems-from-the-gulf_b_3146463.html
We have so much more to share… and we will soon!