Why ‘Black Panther’ was the perfect first choice to revive Saudi cinema

T’Challa, aka the Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman in the Marvel box-office hit. (Marvel)
Updated 20 April 2019

Why ‘Black Panther’ was the perfect first choice to revive Saudi cinema

  • Marvel’s superhero film went on to set other milestones, at the box office and during awards season

DUBAI: “Black Panther,” with its ensemble of African-American actors and its unapologetic social commentary on racial politics, was a welcome signal of change in Hollywood.

Released in January last year, the Marvel movie was a breath of fresh air in an industry lacking in diversity. But it was more than that for Saudi Arabia.

After remaining dark for 35 years, commercial cinemas reopened in the Kingdom on April 18, 2018, with an invite-only screening of “Black Panther” at a cinema in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District.

Hundreds of VIP guests, including government officials and celebrities — men and women mixed — flocked to the venue to be part of the historic moment, one that was part of a series of major policy changes led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

It made sense for “Black Panther” to signify this cultural renaissance, as the film itself was lauded for its own social relevance.

In the movie, African Prince-turned-King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to rule in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a technologically advanced country that is isolated from the rest of the world.

Doubling as the crime-fighting hero Black Panther, King T’Challa also has to defend his country from the evil intentions of his cousin Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who wants to dethrone him.

Critics have praised the film’s bold navigation of a racially charged narrative arc, where the major driving force of the main antagonist was to launch a global uprising against the oppression of African people. 

Aside from the film’s highlight on the plight of people of color, there is also the fact that it treated its female characters the same way it did their male counterparts, giving their warrior roles much-needed depth.

These roles were given life by Lupita Nyong’o (Oscar winner for “12 Years a Slave”) and Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead”).

Director Ryan Coogler successfully managed to inject all these provocative ideas in “Black Panther” while preserving its entertainment value as a superhero movie. 

All the commendations were not just talk — “Black Panther” became an awards-season darling, also making history as one of the most critically acclaimed movies in its genre.

It was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards this year, the first superhero film to get such a nod.

One of the most nominated films that night, it took home three Oscar trophies out of seven: Best Original Music Score, Best Costume Design and Best Production Design, all of which represented historical feats.

It became the first Marvel film ever to win an Oscar. Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler, who won for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design respectively, became the first African-American winners in their categories.

“Black Panther” raked in more than $1.3 billion at the global box office, making it the third-highest-grossing film of all time. 

Its critical, commercial and cultural milestones made it the perfect film to revive the Saudi cinema scene.


From the UAE to Jordan, viral songs keep thousands entertained during self-isolation

Emirati social media star Rashid Al-Nuaimi has become a viral sensation. (Instagram/@r__a__n)
Updated 30 March 2020

From the UAE to Jordan, viral songs keep thousands entertained during self-isolation

DUBAI: From singing opera on their balconies to performing online concerts, musicians all around the globe are finding different ways to keep themselves — and others — entertained while self-isolating at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some are doing their part by rewriting the lyrics to their favorite songs into COVID-19 parodies, while others are creating clever new compositions to bring a little levity to these unprecedented times.

Emirati social media star Rashid Al-Nuaimi has become a viral sensation after taking to his Instagram on Sunday to upload a coronavirus-themed song about being bored in quarantine.

View this post on Instagram

What a moment to be alive. So many emotions take place at the same exact time. It’s important however to remind ourselves that we are all in this together. The world comes together for once in a common cause, and I personally will aim to not let this tragic scenario send me into a pit of fear, but use it to dig for every ounce of love. Love is expressed is many ways, and right now it’s expressed by staying at home. We will come out of the other side of this changed humans! Changed for the better. So let’s start being better now and stay home. My heart is filled with gratitude for every effort and risk the people are taking to protect the whole! Thank you to food delivery drivers, thank you to nurses and hospital workers, thank you to government officials who are working day and night to keep us safe. Thank you thank you thank you! #خلك_في_البيت Piano credit / Sing2piano

A post shared by Rashed راشد (@r__a__n) on

“Has it been a month/No it’s only been a day,” croons the singer, who is surrounded by a pile of books and a cup of tea while wearing yellow sweatpants paired with a hoodie. “I read through a pile of self-help books/ The Uber Eats on the way,” continue the ultra-relatable lyrics.

“Bored in quarantine/I’ll sit with the parts of myself that I have never seen/I’ll be bored in quarantine/I know for a fact, it’ll all be over one day/So I’ll stay in today,” the young jazz singer belts out.

As of this week, the musical clip has garnered nearly 30,000 views and over 200 comments. “Love this. Embracing individual boredom for the greater good,” wrote one user. “Thank you for making this,” quipped another user.

Meanwhile, Jordanian choir The Mosaica Singers came together online to record the song “Khalik bil Bait,” which translates to “stay at home.” 

Legendary singer Neil Diamond remixed his own song, “Sweet Caroline” with some new lyrics, while former “The Voice” contestant Chris Mann released a brilliant coronavirus parody based on Adele’s “Hello,” wittingly titled “Hello (From Inside).”

During troubled times, people often turn to music for comfort, a distraction or to calm the nerves. The coronavirus crisis has produced several moments of musical communion across the globe, including in Italy, where countless online videos have captured scenes of Italians under lockdown playing instruments and singing from apartment windows and balconies. Last week, actress Gal Gadot posted her own Instagram video — a montage of celebrities taking turns to croon John Lennon’s “Imagine” into their cellphone cameras.