What We Are Doing Today: Keramos Studio

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Updated 29 January 2021

What We Are Doing Today: Keramos Studio

Keramos Studio specializes in the making and selling of clay arts and crafts, especially items that reflect Islamic art and Saudi folklore heritage.
The name of the studio is inspired by a word of Greek origin, “keramos,” which means a brick or clay vessel.
The studio is also a location for ceramic and pottery products made in Riyadh.
Pottery has become increasingly popular as a hobby, and the studio offers a large space to work in with multiple options for local pottery workshops. Here potters can enjoy the experience of making, coloring and decorating items such as cups, plates and vases.
The workshops offered by the studio are for men, women and children. Sessions vary between one and five days.
The studio also sells a large variety of products made by the Saudi teams, such as vases, cups, souvenirs, pots and custom-made items.
For more information, visit the website keramosksa.com.


Take two: Eyes of the global film industry are on Jeddah for Red Sea festival

Updated 01 December 2022

Take two: Eyes of the global film industry are on Jeddah for Red Sea festival

  • The second Red Sea International Film Festival promises to be bigger and better than the first, with international stars flocking to the Kingdom’s cinematic spectacular

JEDDAH: The second Red Sea International Film Festival begins on Thursday in Jeddah and the red carpet has been rolled out at the glitzy Ritz Carlton hotel to welcome international movie stars and filmmakers from East and West.

Under the slogan “Film is Everything,” the event, which continues until Dec. 10, will showcase 131 feature films and shorts from 61 countries, in 41 languages, made by established and emerging talents, including seven feature films and 24 shorts from Saudi Arabia.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, RSIFF CEO Mohammed Al-Turki said: “This year, we have a very proud moment as we are closing the film festival with a Saudi film. This is a clear indicator of where Saudi cinema is at.

“Our programmers, especially Antoine Khalife, are very picky when it comes to films. So, for the Red Sea International Film Festival to accept a Saudi film means that it is of a quality to showcase at an international festival.

“So we are very proud and happy to show a home-bred film, “Valley Road” — with a Saudi cast, Saudi director and Saudi writer — as our closing film. It just tells you that Saudi cinema is booming at a fast pace.”

Al-Turki said that the popularity of film has soared in the Kingdom in the five years since a decades-long ban on cinemas was lifted.

“There is a hunger for film and you see that when you look at the numbers of the box office tickets — we have exceeded all neighboring countries,” he said. “We have a bigger box office revenue than the UAE, than Egypt, in just the short time since we lifted the cinema ban in 2017.”

Far from simply playing catch-up with the global cinema industry after the long ban, Saudi Arabia is already excelling in its own right, according to Al-Turki.

“I think we are on the right path … you see a lot of people trying to excel and we’re trying to catch up from the 35 years that cinema was not present,” he said.

“So everybody is trying their best and I’m sure in the next few years we will have Saudi films on a global scale and, hopefully, we can open our film festival in coming years with a Saudi film.”

This year’s opening film “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” is a cross-cultural British romantic comedy directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Lily James, Emma Thompson, Shazad Latif, Rob Brydon, Shabana Azmi, Sajal Aly, and Asim Chaudhry. It won the Best Comedy award at the Rome Film Festival last month.

The festival schedule includes 34 international premieres, 17 Arab premieres, and 47 films from the Middle East and North Africa. It will also welcome many of the talents, on both sides of the camera, involved in the making of the films.

The festival also features an official competition, the Yusr Awards, in which 26 shorts and 16 features from Asia, Africa and the Arab world will compete in a number of categories, including Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress. The winners will be announced on Dec. 8.

The Saudi Film Commission has chosen the film “Raven Song” as the Kingdom’s entry for the Oscars in the Best International Feature Film category. It will have its world premiere at RSIFF on Dec. 3 and is one of the seven films competing for the Golden Yusr for Best Feature Film.

Last year, the Golden Yusr went to the drama “Brighton 4th” by Georgian director Levan Koguashvili, while the top short film award went to “Tala’Vision,” directed by Murad Abu Eisheh from Jordan.

This year, acclaimed US filmmaker Oliver Stone, the recipient of three Academy Awards and director of films such as “JFK,” “Platoon,” “Snowden” and “Born on the Fourth of July,” will head the awards jury.

The festival aims to help open the doors to the film industry for a generation of young Saudis by enriching their knowledge of the industry and providing access to expertise from around the world through a number of initiatives, including competitions that offer funding awards, and filmmaking masterclasses and workshops.

To support and help the fledgling local film industry flourish, RSIFF has its own educational program, Red Sea Labs, and has formed partnerships with TorinoFilmLab in Italy and US film institutions to teach filmmakers from Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

The RSIFF film fund also supports young Saudi and regional filmmakers during preproduction, production and postproduction, said Al-Turki, and “we have the platform, the film festival, to showcase their films. So it comes full circle.”

One of the most significant RSIFF initiatives is the Red Sea Souk, the festival’s industry market platform, which includes a wide-ranging program of curated events designed to foster agreements for coproductions and international distribution, and encourage new business opportunities.

Representatives from 46 countries will take part in the Souk, which runs from Dec. 3 to 6 and offers a chance to network and access key players in the emerging Saudi industry, along with some of the best from the wider Arab and African scenes.

This year, more than 350 distributors, producers, financiers, sales agents and festival representatives will take part in the Souk and participate in face-to-face meetings and sessions with project developers.

During last year’s festival, the Red Sea Souk hosted more than 560 meetings and welcomed more than 3,115 film and media professionals. It was credited with playing a significant role in connecting a new generation of emerging talent with established figures in the cinema industry.

Last year’s marketplace was managed by Saudi artist Zain Zedan, who told Arab News after the festival: “This year was a great first start and we are ready to work on the second edition. The energy is great and the possibilities are endless. We are creating history here.”

This year, cash awards will be provided by the Red Sea Fund and awarded by two juries. The Project Market jury will choose the recipients of Jury Special Mention awards for development ($35,000) and production ($100,000). All selected projects will be eligible for additional awards funded by Red Sea Souk sponsors and partners totaling $670,000.

Also as part of Red Sea Souk, the second Talent Days initiative will take place on Dec. 7 and 8. It will feature sessions designed to nurture the next generation of filmmakers and effectively offers an initiation into the cinema industry for aspiring filmmakers through inspirational talks and individual meetings. Acclaimed Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania will lead this year’s Talent Days.

The manager of the inaugural Talent Days last year was Rana Jarbou, a Saudi director who said that the aim was “to encourage up-and-coming young Saudi filmmakers and grow the local film industry.”

Alongside the Red Sea Souk, the competitions, the red-carpet galas, outdoor screenings, and other special presentations, the festival will also host a range of themed film programs such as Festival Favorites, New Saudi/New Cinema, Red Sea: Treasures, Red Sea: Arab and International Spectacular, Red Sea: Family and Children, Red Sea: Virtual Reality, and Red Sea: Series. In addition, Red Sea: New Vision is a new strand dedicated to filmmakers who push the boundaries of creativity with a style of genre-defining filmmaking that challenges audiences.

Kaleem Aftab, director of international programming for the festival, told Arab News about the vibrant scene within the Saudi film industry, especially after the success of the first RSIFF last year.

“The Saudi film industry is incredible, considering where it was just five years ago,” he said. “There's a lot of movement forward and a big shift in the right direction. We’re still at the beginning but it’s making a mark in the International Festival space.

“I think the success of the Red Sea Film Festival, the inaugural edition, really gave a positive feeling to Saudi people and I had the sense that cinema was being celebrated, cinema was a possibility as a career, cinema is something to be proud of rather than something to be scared of, to hide away. I think we’re seeing a change in the perception of the way people want to tell stories.”

Last week, RSIFF organizers announced that this year’s Yusr Honorary Awards would be presented to veteran Egyptian actor Yousra, acclaimed British director Guy Ritchie and Indian actor and producer Shah Rukh Khan, in recognition of their exceptional contributions to film.

Yousra was among the stars who attended the festival last year, during which she advised young Saudi filmmakers to “be patient. Do not rush to stardom, and love your career for what it is. Try and fail, and learn how to choose the right time and career circumstances. Remember, no one jumps to success.”

She added: “I want to see Saudi films that speak to the world, not to a certain region, so the world understands what and who you are.”


Government asks censor board to review Pakistani movie Joyland’s suitability for screening

Updated 16 November 2022

Government asks censor board to review Pakistani movie Joyland’s suitability for screening

  • Information minister says complaints received from parents, middle-class people
  • Special committee formed by PM suggests ‘full board review’ of Joyland

KARACHI: A government committee formed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to consider complaints against the Pakistani film Joyland on Tuesday tasked the country’s censor board to review whether the movie is suitable for screening or not.

Last week, the information ministry declared Joyland “repugnant to the norms of decency and morality” and ruled that it was an “uncertified film” for release in cinemas. Joyland celebrates “transgender culture” in Pakistan, with the film’s plot revolving around a family torn between modernity and tradition in contemporary Lahore.

Transgender people are considered outcasts by many in Pakistan, despite some progress with a law that protects their rights and a landmark Supreme Court ruling designating them as a third gender.

It has won the Cannes “Queer Palm” prize for the best feminist-themed movie as well as the Jury Prize in the “Un Certain Regard” competition, a segment focusing on young, innovative cinema talent. Joyland is Pakistan’s entry for next year’s Academy Awards.

The committee, headed by federal minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, held a meeting to review complaints against the film on Tuesday.

“The committee was directed to consider the complaints against the said film being contrary to social norms,” the information ministry’s press release said.

“After thorough deliberations, it [the committee] concluded that the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) should conduct a FULL BOARD REVIEW immediately to take final decision of its suitability for screening.”

Speaking on a private news channel, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the film had been “intensely censored” at first before it was certified by the censor board. She said once the movie was released at international festivals, the censor board received a flurry of complaints against it by people who had watched it abroad. 

“A surge of applications and petitions were received [against Joyland],” Aurangzeb said. “When petitions are received, it is binding to review them,” she added. 

“To my surprise, I was told by the censor board that they were [applications] received from middle-class people and parents,” the minister said. 

She said the censor board is an autonomous body as per Pakistani law, adding that the government had not interfered with the process. Aurangzeb said the decision by the censor board will be taken by Wednesday evening. 

Joyland writer and director, Saim Sadiq, also spoke on the channel, lamenting that Pakistan “is being made fun of” around the world. He said people were unable to comprehend why a movie that received critical acclaim was not being approved by the country’s own government. 

“If they [people who watched the film abroad] had an issue with the film that it shouldn’t be released in Pakistan, why did they watch it abroad,” Sadiq asked.

The information ministry’s decision to rule that the film was “uncertified” triggered outrage on social media, with many questioning the decision by the government.

“It is a story of our people told by our people for our people. Hoping for it to be made accessible to these very people #ReleaseJoyland,” Pakistani actor Humayun Saeed wrote on Twitter earlier this week.

“I personally do not believe in banning films that highlight issues faced by marginalized segments of our society,” Salman Sufi, the head of the prime minister’s strategic reforms unit, wrote on Twitter.

“People should be trusted to watch & make their own mind.”

Prominent Pakistani journalist, Aamna Isani, shared the definition of a transgender according to the constitution. “If you have a problem with that, appeal for an amendment to the constitution. Until then, #ReleaseJoyland,” she wrote on Twitter.


What We Are Reading Today: Life Is Hard by Kieran Setiya

Updated 12 November 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Life Is Hard by Kieran Setiya

This was a beautifully written book that everyone should have on their shelf.

This book invites thought, compassion, reflection, and consideration, both for one’s own life and the lives of those around us.

In this profound and personal book, Kieran Setiya shows how philosophy can help us find our way.

Setiya skillfully gives readers the information and context they need as he goes so they do not have to have a background in philosophy to understand and enjoy this book.

The way he ties it all together is poetry and his humor adds levity to some deceptively deep and heavy topics. He shares his own experience with chronic pain and the consolation that comes from making sense of it.

Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy, as well as fiction, comedy, social science and personal essay, Life is Hard is a book for this moment — a work of solace and compassion.

“This book makes no attempt to sugar coat life,” said a review on Goodreads.com.

“Once we accept the fact that we and others will always have troubles life will become more bearable and enjoyable.”

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Where We Are Going Today: Cyan Waterpark 

Updated 10 November 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Cyan Waterpark 

If you’re looking to enjoy a pleasant time with family or friends, Cyan Waterpark is sure to impress. The spacious waterpark has attractions for all ages, and you can easily spend long hours there getting great value for your admission. The family-friendly environment is accessible to all visitors, including those with special needs.

Not too far from midtown Jeddah and right at the start of Obhur, Cyan Waterpark is located on King Saud Road.

Plunge down on a single, double or multiple-person raft for a high-adrenaline adventure or take a relaxing ride and float along the lazy river.

There is an array of interactive water games for children including spouts, colorful slides and dumping buckets.

Cyan waterpark also offers two wave pools, one for children and the other for adults, which will make you feel like you are in the middle of the sea.

The park’s friendly staff enhances the experience with their excellent service and attention to detail.

With the highest safety standards and professionally trained lifeguards, the park is an outstanding leisure destination for the whole family.

in the near future, Cyan Waterpark is set to open other attractions such as event halls, a petting zoo, an educational farm and an activity center for kids.

Today, guests can get their Cyan Waterpark soft opening tickets by booking at www. cyanwp.com, or as walk-in customers. Admission for adults is sR299 ($80) and sR199 for children. 

As the waterpark has some dress code guidelines, ensure you bring suitable swimwear.

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British director Guy Ritchie to be honored at Red Sea film festival

Updated 01 December 2022

British director Guy Ritchie to be honored at Red Sea film festival

RIYADH: British filmmaker Guy Ritchie will be honored for “his exceptional contribution to the film industry” at the Red Sea International Film festival, event organizers said.

Ritchie, known for hits such as “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” will receive the award at the second festival in Jeddah. 

“British film director, producer and screenwriter Guy Ritchie is considered one of the most successful directors working today,” said organizers. “A gifted storyteller, Ritchie has a unique signature style and is renowned for a body of work.”

Saudi Arabia’s premier film festival runs from Dec. 1-10 and will feature more than 130 films and shorts from more than 60 countries in 41 languages. 

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, said: “Guy Ritchie is a pioneering director and unique storyteller.” 

Over the past 20 years, he has created a huge variety of unforgettable characters featuring original and intricate plots on the big screen. We are delighted to honor his extraordinary talents at the festival and look forward to welcoming him to Jeddah this December.”
 

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