I met an inspiring person who told me about a nugget of wisdom, at least in my opinion, from a humble taxi driver here in Dubai. This driver said to his passenger that all he wants from life are two things: help someone and grow something. It seems so simple and so attainable.
This brings me to a person who fits this dictum so well that I thought of writing a few words in black and white about her story. Last year, Khitam Edelbi sent us an email asking for more information about crowdfunding and how she can benefit from a crowdfunding campaign on Aflamnah to purchase a bus that she needs to turn into a mobile “art center”. The Mobile Art Bus has been a dream that has haunted her since her student years in the US while studying. As a Palestinian in the West Bank, she has, single-handedly been offering her art therapy to children in the refugee camps, remote villages, towns and cities using her small car.
She did it.
Khitam Edelbi has helped, helps and will help young kids and at the same time nurture their artistic green shoots. Here are some heartwarming pictures that I would like to share with you all and with those who have supported the project.
So help someone and grow something too!
It feels good to help someone and grow something!
A brand new initiative launched last week with a wonderful story beautifully told: MÖBIUS!
Grand Cinemas has partnered up with several French Cultural institutions based in UAE to bring some great French cinema to the Ibn Battuta all year round! So any day of the week, you will be able to go watch a French movie and as we know, French cinema really is something very special.
The program is called CINE13 because screen number 13 will be dedicated to French cinema - would be great if they could also offer some delicious French food to go with the experience - at least occasionally!
But let’s get back to MÖBIUS. The invitation described it as “the captivating international thriller Möbius, starring Jean Dujardin, Cécile de France and Tim Roth and Emilie Dequenne.”
Jean Dujardin? Yes him of The Artist fame! He is not only great eye candy but much more importantly, a great actor. In this film her plays Gregoy Lioubov, a Russian secret services officer who goes by the alias Moses. He is sent to Monaco to keep watch over a powerful businessman. For this mission, his team hires Alice (Cécile de France), a top-notch financial expert who infiltrates the company.
The entire cast including Tim Roth are great. He plays the Russian with a curiously Eastend London accent (it is explained at the end of the film).
The director, Eric Rochant, introduced it by saying something to this effect, “I don’t even know if it is a thriller or a love story. Watch the film and let me know which one it is.” We fell in love watching MÖBIUS… It is only on till Wednesday 29th January at Ibn Battuta
We’re a tad disappointed that there is little Arab representation at the Sundance Festival this year! Several films have a theme about the region but are made by non-Arabs and several are Iranian stories which am sure are great but actual Arab language films are seriously lacking at Sundance this year and we are really not clear why that is!
However, there is a ray of hope in one film in competition that follows two young Syrian men from 2011 -2013. Return to Homs by Talal Derki is carrying the Syrian story on its shoulders but also shouldering Arab cinema at this year’s Sundance!
Here’s the Synopsis as found on the Sundance website and a link to the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYMhVE2iJCk
From 2011 to 2013, filmmaker Talal Derki followed the journey of two close friends whose lives had been upended by the battle raging in Syria. Nineteen-year-old Basset is a local soccer star—the goalkeeper for the Syrian national team. He has also become an iconic singer in the revolution. His songs reflect his dreams of a peaceful liberation from Assad’s brutal regime. Ossama is a 24-year-old media activist and pacifist who wields his camera to capture the revolution. When the army cracks down and their beloved city of Homs becomes a bombed-out ghost town, these two peaceful protesters finally take up arms and transform into rebel insurgents.
With no talking heads or title cards to give us context, Derki’s film is after something much more visceral. Like its heroes, we are pulled into the conflict with frenzied immediacy as we experience one city, the dreaded rites of passage of two friends, and ultimately an entire nation torn apart by the fog of war.
if you are at Sundance and see the film, please let us know your thoughts!
We are huge fans of well told stories and these were some of our favourite Western series of last year! What are you looking forward to in 2014?
HOUSE OF CARDS
THE GOOD WIFE
Where do we begin? Well let’s start by saying 2013 will go down in our history as the year the conversation changed from what is crowdfunding to all sorts of other more pertinent questions like is it right for my project, how can I make sure I succeed, what is the ideal funding period, what is your track record, how do you help us market our project and so on!
We noticed this most of all at the Dubai International Film Festival which was a meeting fest for the Aflamnah team but where we also celebrated the world premieres of two feature documentaries that had used the Aflamnah platform to crowdfund: Searching for Saris by Jinan Coulter and The Brain that Sings by Amal Al Agroobi (pictured below). Both were in competition and Amal walked away with the Audience Award: very fitting for a crowdfunded film!
It’s also the year we were very honored to be invited to take part in a panel about crowdfunding at the Cannes Film Festival at the short corner:
Cannes is also where we saw our favourite Arabic movie of the year: OMAR which we is now in the running (top 9) for the OSCARs and we hope it will make it into the top 5 and will eventually become the first Palestinian movie to take home the Best Foreign Film OSCAR!
We initiated our first crowdfunding workshops with the American University in Dubai and were also invited to SAE Jordan to spend an incredible two days with their students!
On the PR front, it’s the year we got featured in the New York Times (nyti.ms/1eNokPJ), The Huffington Post (huff.to/10qMRm0) and were talked about synonymously with crowdfunding in the Arab world across the region inlcuding amazing coverage in The National and Shawati’ as well as Al Bayan and Al Khaleej. We were also invited to sit on several panels or give talks such as the one we gave at the Pechakucha Sharjah event, the Maraya Centre, the Gulf Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Dubai Film Festival, Ismailia Film Festival just to name a few.
One of our personal best loved highlights was the announcement of filmmaker Nawaf Al-Janahi as Aflamnah’s brand ambassador who has been an inspiration and a very welcome partner.
We have had the support of many individuals and organisations throughout the year and we would like to thank all of our supporters together with our advisory board who have been instrumental in moving us forward.
We leave you with hearfelt new year’s greetings and look forward to spreading crowdfunding to more people and helping those with great ideas and projects however large or small to make dreams happen! Remember every little helps so do take part this year for the first time or again if you’ve already supported a project!
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!