Oscars 2019: Arab nominees at the 91st Academy Awards

The Egyptian American actor Rami Malek has already won best actor awards for his performance in Bohemian Rhapsody. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019

Oscars 2019: Arab nominees at the 91st Academy Awards

DUBAI: The Oscars countdown is almost over - both fans and critics have already locked in their favorites over who will take home this year’s trophies.

It is a particularly exciting season for Arabs and Muslims, as a few Oscar contenders are set to make history for the region. 

Rami Malek for Best Actor

It would be a big upset if Rami Malek does not win the coveted Best Actor trophy on Feb. 24, as his epic transformation into rock legend Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been recognized in every awards show preceding the 91st Academy Awards: The Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and SAG.

Born to immigrant parents, the Egyptian American is poised to make history as the first actor of Arab descent to clinch the top acting prize at the Oscars, seen as one of the highest recognitions in the field. In 2016, he scored an Emmy for his performance in the hit TV show “Mr. Robot.”

Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor

A frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor, Mahershala Ali is heading strong into the Oscars with multiple wins on his resume for his role in the historical dramedy “Green Book.”

The 44-year-old made headlines in 2017 when he became the first Muslim to win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars in its 91-year history. Ali could replicate this success this year.

 

 

Capernaum for Best Foreign Film

Oprah Winfrey, a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has said Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum,” nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, is a must-see.

Ever since the Lebanese drama won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, more and more people, including colleagues in the film industry, have been praising Labaki’s work.

But it is going to be an uphill battle as her film competes with Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” which has won all foreign-language film recognitions ahead of the Oscars.

Of Father and Sons for Best Documentary Feature

Berlin-based Syrian director Talal Derki took it to a different level when he lived with a Daesh family to shoot his award-winning documentary “Of Father and Sons,” which depicts radicalization from a very personal viewpoint, and is nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

But the courageous Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner is up against a tough bunch, including fan favorite “RBG,” which documents the life of US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a living legend in American law.

Critics have also placed their bets on “Free Solo,” a sports documentary that depicts the athletic feat of professional rock climber Alex Hammond.


What We Are Reading Today: European Passerines by Tomasz Cofta

Updated 27 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: European Passerines by Tomasz Cofta

Opening up new frontiers in birdwatching, this is the first field guide to focus specifically on the identification of European passerines and related land birds in flight. Showcasing 850 stunning and remarkably lifelike color illustrations from acclaimed bird artist Tomasz Cofta, produced using the latest digital technology, backed up with more than 2,400 photographs carefully selected to show typical flight profiles, it provides detailed and unsurpassed coverage of 205 European passerines and 32 near-passerines. This cutting-edge book brings a new dimension to birdwatching, the concise and authoritative species accounts presenting novel yet essential information on the flight manner of individual birds and the structure and behavior of flocks — features that are key to identification, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. It also includes precise transliterations of flight calls, supported by sonograms, and links to a unique collection of hundreds of online audio recordings. Beautifully designed and written in an accessible style, this book will appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities.


What We Are Reading Today: A Decade of Upheaval

Updated 26 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: A Decade of Upheaval

Authors: Dong Guoqiang and Andrew G. Walder

A Decade of Upheaval chronicles the surprising and dramatic political conflicts of a rural Chinese county over the course of the Cultural Revolution.
Drawing on an unprecedented range of sources — including work diaries, interviews, internal party documents, and military directives — Dong Guoqiang and Andrew Walder uncover a previously unimagined level of strife in the countryside that began with the Red Guard Movement in 1966 and continued unabated until the death of Mao Zedong in 1976.
Showing how the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution were not limited to urban areas, but reached far into isolated rural regions, Dong and Walder reveal that the intervention of military forces in 1967 encouraged factional divisions in Feng County because different branches of China’s armed forces took various sides in local disputes.
The authors also lay bare how the fortunes of local political groups were closely tethered to unpredictable shifts in the decisions of government authorities in Beijing, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. Eventually, a backlash against suppression and victimization grew in the early 1970s and resulted in active protests, which presaged the settling of scores against radical Maoism.


What We Are Reading Today: Religion, Identity and Power: Turkey and the Balkans in the Twenty-First Century

Updated 23 February 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Religion, Identity and Power: Turkey and the Balkans in the Twenty-First Century

Author: Ahmet Erdi Ozturk

This recently published book explores, from a historical perspective, Turkey’s current political maneuvers and religious leverages in the Balkans under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It presents Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia as case studies of Turkey using soft and hard policy instruments in the region.

Author Ahmet Erdi Ozturk, an associate professor at London Metropolitan University and Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellow at Coventry University in the UK and the German Institute for Global and Area Studies, wrote the book after a study in several Balkan countries that took more than three years to complete and included interviews with almost 130 high-ranking individuals.

It suggests that Turkey insistently interferes in Balkan politics using religion, state power and imaginary identities, dubbed by some as neo-Ottomanism, and that this presence gradually becomes a threat to the secularism and sovereignty of the countries it targets.

The book, published by Edinburgh University Press, not only aids understanding of Turkish-Balkan diplomatic relations, but also the complex relationship between the regime in Ankara under Erdogan and the Muslim communities in the three countries.

Beyond that, it is about more than just Turkey and the Balkans; it also deepens our understanding of how religion can be used as a form of soft power in global affairs. It examines a number of political parties, for example Besa in Macedonia, that are linked to the regime in Ankara and the ways in which they interact with Turkish state apparatus.

The underlying strategy behind the construction of new mosques across the Balkans as a way to turn these countries toward Turkey rather than West is also examined in detail.
 


Britain's Princess Eugenie and husband pick a name for their baby son

Updated 20 February 2021

Britain's Princess Eugenie and husband pick a name for their baby son

  • The baby — a ninth great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth II — was born Feb. 9 at London’s Portland Hospital
  • Eugenie, 30, is the younger daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York and a granddaughter of the queen

LONDON: Britain’s Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank have named their baby boy August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, Buckingham Palace said Saturday.
The baby — a ninth great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth II — was born Feb. 9 at London’s Portland Hospital.
Eugenie, 30, is the younger daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York and a granddaughter of the queen. The baby, who weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce, is her first child and is 11th in line to the British throne.
Eugenie said on Instagram that the baby is named after his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, who had Augustus as a middle name.
One of his middle names pays tribute to Eugenie’s grandfather, Prince Philip. The queen’s 99-year-old husband is currently in a London hospital where he was admitted on Tuesday after feeling ill. Hawke is a Brooksbank family name.
The baby is not expected to get a royal title and will be known as Master August Brooksbank.
Eugenie married 35-year-old Brooksbank, a businessman, in October 2018 at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Eugenie posted a picture on Instagram of the couple holding their son, who is swaddled in a blue blanket with a matching cap.
“Thank you for so many wonderful messages. Our hearts are full of love for this little human, words can’t express,” she wrote, adding that the photo was taken “by our wonderful midwife.”
“Thank you to the wonderful essential workers including our midwife who came to discharge our boy,” she said.
The queen and Prince Philip have two more great-grandchildren on the way. Both Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Princess Anne’s daughter Zoe Tindall are due to give birth this year.
The child of Meghan and her husband Prince Harry will become eighth in line to the throne after elder brother Archie, and will push baby August down to 12th in the line of succession.
Harry and Meghan gave up official royal duties last year and moved to California. On Friday the palace announced that the split will be final, with the couple giving up military and charitable patronages they held on behalf of the queen.


Kim Kardashian files for divorce from Kanye West

Updated 20 February 2021

Kim Kardashian files for divorce from Kanye West

  • Kardashian is asking for joint custody of the couple’s four children

LOS ANGELES: Reality TV star Kim Kardashian has filed for divorce from rapper Kanye West after almost seven years of marriage, her publicist told AFP Friday.
The mega-celebrity couple’s divorce proceedings come just weeks after US media reported the pair were living separately and going through counseling dealing with “regular relationship issues.”
Celebrity gossip site TMZ — which broke the news Friday — said the separation was “as amicable as a divorce can be.”
Kardashian, 40, is asking for joint custody of the couple’s four children, it added, with her lawyer Laura Wasser reportedly handing in the divorce papers Friday.
Kardashian’s publicist confirmed the divorce filing but did not provide further details.
The pair, who began dating in 2012 and married in a lavish ceremony in Italy two years later, rapidly became one of the world’s most instantly recognizable couples.
But their union has been dogged for months by reports in the gossip press that their marriage was on the rocks as West has battled with mental health issues and launched an improbable and controversial foray into US politics.
West, 43, has opened up about his struggles with bipolar disorder.
In July last year the mercurial entertainment mogul launched a bid for the US presidency with a rambling speech during which he revealed he had wanted to abort his daughter, and broke down in tears.
He also posted a series of tweets, later deleted, that accused his wife and mother-in-law of trying to lock him up, and suggested he was seeking a divorce.
Kardashian called on the media and public to show “compassion and empathy” following her husband’s erratic behavior.
“Those that understand mental illness or even compulsive behavior know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor,” Kardashian said in her lengthy Instagram post in July.
The couple have four children: seven-year-old daughter North, son Saint, five, daughter Chicago, three, and 21-month-old son Psalm.
Aside from family visits, West has been living at his sprawling ranch in Wyoming in recent months, while Kardashian and the children stayed in California.
It would be the first divorce for West and the third for Kardashian, who came to fame with the US reality TV series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” which followed the lives of her family members in Los Angeles.
Chicago-raised rapper and record producer West has won 21 Grammys. He burst onto the rap scene on his production chops, before delivering a string of critically acclaimed studio albums, selling over 20 million copies.
He has made a very public turn to Christian evangelism in recent years, finally releasing his long-awaited gospel album.
The pair began dating in 2012 while Kardashian was going through divorce proceedings with second husband Kris Humphries.
First child North was born in June 2013, and the couple married the following year at a 16th-century fortress in Florence, Italy after a pre-wedding celebration held at Versailles palace in France.

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