Leading ladies touch down in Tunisia for new Manarat film festival

Dora Bouchoucha (center) is presiding over the festival. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Leading ladies touch down in Tunisia for new Manarat film festival

DUBAI: Some of the Middle East’s leading ladies made an appearance at the first-ever edition of the Manarat film festival in Tunisia this week, including Egypt-based actress Hend Sabri, Jordanian starlet Saba Mubarak and Tunis-born Dorra Zarrouk.
The film festival, which translates to mean “light house” in English, kicked off Tuesday with a screening of Gianfranco Rosi’s Oscar-nominated “Fuocoammare” and is set to run until July 15.
The 2016 film centers on the Italian island of Lampedusa, whose inhabitants are left shaken when waves of migrants land upon its shores.
Organizers delayed the official opening ceremony after eight members of Tunisia’s security forces were killed Sunday in a “terrorist attack” near the border with Algeria, the interior ministry said, the country’s deadliest such incident in over two years.
“In view of the painful events … (the ceremony) has been postponed until Tuesday, July 10.
May God bless our righteous martyrs,” a post on the festival’s official Facebook page read.
Presiding over the event is Tunisia’s first female film producer, Dora Bouchoucha, who also helmed Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival in 2008, 2010 and 2014.
In 2017, the Huffington Post called her “a born rebel, a trailblazer of wonderful self-assurance, elegance and beauty” and in 2018, she proved that she still has a lot to offer by attending the Cannes Film Festival premiere of the feature film her company, Nomadis Images, co-produced, “Weldi,” or “Dear Son” in English.
The festival aims to strengthen the relationship between Tunisia and countries in the Mediterranean Basin. To that end, organizers are putting on a show of more than 50 films, including movies from Egypt, Algeria, Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina, among various other countries.
Highlights include “Ghost Hunting,” a 2017 film by director Raed Andoni, and 2017’s “The Man Behind the Microphone,” which tells the story of Hedi Jouini, the so-called godfather of Tunisian music.
The festival will also feature a competition section that will see such films as “The Blessed,” an Algerian offering directed by Sofia Djama, and “A Ciambra,” directed by Itay’s Jonas Carpignano, go head to head for the top prize. The judging panel includes Lebanese actress Manel Issa, Egyptian actress Bushra Rozza and Palestinian actress Manal Awad.
Cinephiles can also enjoy a host of films that are set to be broadcast on public beaches, including La Goulette, La Marsa and Hammam-Lif among others.
For her part, Sabri set to be honored for one of her first-ever movies, 1994 drama “Samt El-Qusur” — “The Silences of the Palace” in English — and Rozza will get a nod from the organizers for her film on sexual harassment, “678.”
Six films to watch at the festival
Tunisia’s Manarat festival is set to run until July 15 and is showing 52 films from across the Arab world and beyond. Here, we take a look at some of the thought-provoking movies that will entertain audiences over the next few days.
‘Withered Green’
Directed by Mohamed Hammad, this Egyptian film tells the story of a defining week in protagonist Iman’s life as she attempts to convince her uncles to attend her younger sister’s engagement. However, a shocking discovery leads her to do away with such traditions. The film, which premiered in 2016, won the Muhr Feature Award for Best Director at the Dubai International Film Festival.
‘Ghost Hunting’
Director Raed Andoni placed a newspaper advert in Ramallah looking for former inmates of Jerusalem’s Moskobiya interrogation center in this 2017 film. The director then oversaw the creation of a replica of the interrogation facility using the memories of the former inmates and filmed the process, as well as interviews with the men.
‘Paradise Now’
This hard-hitting movie tells the story of two childhood friends who are recruited for a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad and released in 2005, the film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the 2006 Academy Awards, but narrowly missed out. It did, however, win a Golden Globe in the same year.
‘The Man Behind the Microphone’
The 2017 film is a portrait of Hedi Jouini, the so-called godfather of Tunisian music. Directed by Claire Belhassine, it tells the tale of his rise to stardom, as well as his family life.
‘Men Don’t Cry’
Directed by Alen Drljevic, this 2017 film plays out in a boarded up Serbian hotel that plays host to a group of veterans undergoing therapy almost 20 years after the end of the Yugoslav Wars. The complexities of the period of hostility are explored through the men and their tangled relationships with one another as they try to battle their sense of shame years after the end of the violent conflict.
‘Laila’s Birthday’
Starring Mohammad Bakri, Areen Omari and Nour Zoubi and directed by Rashid Masharawi, this film tells the story of Abu Laila who finds himself driving a taxi to make ends meet. On his daughter’s seventh birthday, he tasks himself with finding her a cake, but the chaos of daily life in Palestine hampers his plans.


Pint-sized heroes score big in Marvel’s latest flick

This image released by Marvel Studios shows a scene from "Ant-Man and the Wasp." (Disney/Marvel Studios via AP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Pint-sized heroes score big in Marvel’s latest flick

  • Characters who fly off the pages of comic books and onto the silver screen are often exciting and Ant-Man and the Wasp are no different
  • What is really memorable about this film is the emotional high

CHENNAI: Characters who fly off the pages of comic books and onto the silver screen are often dynamic and exciting, and Ant-Man and the Wasp are no different. The characters of Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne (Ant-Man and the Wasp, respectively) go on an epic adventure in the 20th release in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe series of comic book movies, and the first to feature a woman in the title.

Directed by Peyton Reed, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) star in a gleeful movie that, for two hours, takes viewers into the realm of sheer fantastical fantasy. There is a lot of fun here and the special effects dexterously push the pulse-pounding plot as buildings shrink into miniature form and vehicles go from minuscule to massive in the blink of an eye.

It’s the second movie in the series and this time, Scott Lang languishes under house arrest in San Francisco after being caught as his shrinkable superhero alter-ego fighting some of the other Avengers in “Civil War.” He dotes on his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ruder Forston) and the pair make the most of their time together at home, but his world is turned upside down when he’s confronted by Hope Van Dyne and her father, the brilliant quantum physicist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), with an urgent new mission.

His wife, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), has been stuck in the quantum realm for 30 years and it’s time to save her from being lost forever.

What is really memorable about this film is the emotional high — the tender relationship between Lang and his daughter, the stirrings of love between him and Hope and Hank’s unwavering feelings for his long-missing wife. These play out as strongly as the electrifying car chases, the fantastic fights and the terrific transmogrification of just about everything.
Besides the gigantic helping of humor — most of which comes courtesy of a hilarious Michael Peña — the film is made by a wistful Pfeiffer, a grumbling Douglas and a hilarious Rudd, who all add that touch of magic humanism.