Lebanese director Pam Nasr discusses her debut film ‘Clams Casino’

A still from the short film 'Clams Casino'. (Supplied)
Updated 09 January 2019
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Lebanese director Pam Nasr discusses her debut film ‘Clams Casino’

DUBAI: “When we see something strange, if we’ve never been exposed to anything like it, we tend to push it away. But I was really interested in this phenomenon. There was so much to discover about it, and I was attracted to the human aspect of why people partake in it and why it’s so popular. Like, why does it exist?”




A still from the short film 'Clams Casino'. (Supplied)

Lebanese filmmaker Pam Nasr is talking about mukbang — a craze that began in South Korea and is basically a live stream of someone eating a large amount of food. Nasr’s first film, a short called ‘Clams Casino,’ which premiered in the region in Dubai last month, is based around the phenomenon. A young woman who lives with her mother, with whom she has a difficult relationship, spends hours collecting seafood, cooking it, setting it out beautifully on the table, and dressing up in order to eat it in front of a webcam.
“It stems from loneliness,” Nasr says. “Mukbang is kind of a solution to loneliness, and — at the same time — these performers make a lot of money from eating online.”
While some viewers, she says, are watching for fetishistic reasons, most “watch it because they’re lonely and they want to have someone to eat with.” Nasr recalls, as a child, arriving home from school each day and dining by herself, as the rest of her family had already eaten.
“I asked my family if someone would wait and eat with me,” she says. “In Lebanon, and in many other cultures too, the art of cooking for someone (and eating together) is such a way of delivering your love to them. So I really connected to this when I was studying Mukbang. It was a beautiful learning curve for me. And I hope for many others who watch ‘Clams Casino.’”




Filmmaker Pam Nasr. (Supplied)

The Q&A session that followed the Dubai screening was the longest she’s had so far (having toured several festivals in America with the movie). “A lot of people really connected to it and understood what I was doing.” In particular, Nasr was moved by an exchange with a young college student who told her that a friend in college had been going through a tough time and was watching a lot of mukbang.
“She was very tearful. She said that after watching my film, she understood her friend a lot more. My heart went out to her,” Nasr says. “There were a lot of intimate moments like that at the screening. It was really beautiful.”


Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

Updated 25 August 2019
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Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

TAIF: It is not unusual for musicians to aim for the stars, but organizers of the Crown Prince Camel Festival in Taif gave the Ukrainian concert pianist Olina Lukashu a head start.

Visitors to the opening entertainment events at King Faisal Garden were treated to the sight and sound of Lukashu performing 5 meters in the air, dressed in a long white gown that reached down to the ground.

“It was decided to put her at the entrance of the garden, all dressed in white to welcome the visitors,” festival spokesman Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab News.

“It is a new idea that was greatly enjoyed by visitors, who admired her rendition of various musical pieces.”

Among the 25 events taking place in conjunction with this year’s festival is a circus presented by five Latin American countries, Al-Anzi said. There is also a free childcare service, mobile food courts, international restaurants and a live broadcasting studio.  “Visitors will be able to ride camels inside the park, and enjoy the handicrafts on display by various artisans,” he said.

Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, told Arab News the Taif Season was important in terms of generating employment opportunities for young Saudis, and creating tourist projects. “All the events are full of visitors,” he said.

He said 2,000 jobs were provided during the Taif Season, and those who took up the opportunities gained skills and knowledge about the requirements of an audience.

“Saudi culture has changed, and Saudis have become more aware of global challenges and requirements, and the expectations of tourists and other consumers,” he said. “Taif Season has set a high standard.”