Jennifer Aniston says loss of Matthew Perry ‘has cut deep’

David Schwimmer, from left, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc pose after “Friends” won outstanding comedy series at the 54th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2002, in Los Angeles. (AP/File)
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Updated 15 November 2023

Jennifer Aniston says loss of Matthew Perry ‘has cut deep’

  • “Having to say goodbye to our Matty has been an insane wave of emotions that I’ve never experienced before,” Aniston wrote on the social media platform
  • “We loved him deeply. He was such a part of our DNA. We were always the 6 of us,” she added

LOS ANGELES: Actor Jennifer Aniston paid tribute to her late “Friends” co-star Matthew Perry on Wednesday in an Instagram post with a black and white photo of Aniston and Perry laughing together during a cast script reading.
Perry was found dead in the Jacuzzi of his Los Angeles home on Oct. 28. He was 54.
“Oh boy this one has cut deep... Having to say goodbye to our Matty has been an insane wave of emotions that I’ve never experienced before,” Aniston wrote on the social media platform.
Referring to her former “Friends” cast as her “chosen family,” Aniston reflected on how much Perry meant to her and the entire group.
“We loved him deeply. He was such a part of our DNA. We were always the 6 of us,” she added.
Aniston said Perry reveled in making people laugh, like “his life literally depended on it.”
She shared that she will keep his text messages forever and they will have her “Laughing and crying then laughing again.”
Aniston posted a text message between the two.
“Making you laugh just made my day. It made my day,” Perry texted Aniston, referencing the day the first picture in her slideshow was taken.
“Awww the first of THOUSANDS of times...,” Aniston texted back.
She finished her post by saying she loves him and “Rest little brother. You always made my day.”
In a brief statement published by People magazine last month, Aniston, along with fellow “Friends” cast members Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer spoke out publicly for the first time since news broke that Perry had passed away.
They said they would say more about the loss when they were able to.
The cause and manner of Perry’s death are to be determined by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office, following completion of an autopsy with toxicology tests.
Perry’s death came one year after publication of his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” which chronicled his decades-long struggle with addiction to prescription painkillers and alcohol. At the time, Perry said he had been sober for about 18 months.

Gulf dish harees, Palestinian dabke added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list  

Updated 51 min 2 sec ago

Gulf dish harees, Palestinian dabke added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list  

DUBAI: The Middle Eastern dish harees, popular in the Gulf region, has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list alongside other practices and dishes from the Arab world.  

The name harees comes from the Arabic word harasa, which means to mash or to squash. Just as the name suggests, in the preparation of harees wheat is ground with goat meat or mutton, and then cooked over low heat until it gets creamy. 

The list also includes six other cultural traditions from the Arab world, including the Palestinian version of the dabke – the Levant folklore dance, Iraq’s traditional craft skills and arts of building called Al-Mudhif and Lebanon’s man’ouche, the flatbread topped with thyme, cheese or ground meat.   

From Syria, UNESCO added the glassblowing technique that artisans use for the craft of creating glass objects from pieces of waste glass using a handmade brick oven.  

The list also includes Sudan’s Al-Molid procession, which is a parade that celebrates the Prophet’s birthday. It takes place in the third month of the Islamic lunar calendar. 

The last thing on the list is the arts, skills and practices associated with engraving on gold, silver and copper, which is popular in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisian and Yemen. 

Kate Beckinsale, Jameela Jamil step out in Arab gowns

Updated 06 December 2023

Kate Beckinsale, Jameela Jamil step out in Arab gowns

DUBAI: British actresses Kate Beckinsale and Jameela Jamil this week stepped out in head-turning ensembles by Arab designers at Elle’s Women in Hollywood celebration at Nya Studios in Los Angeles. 

Beckinsale — famous for her roles in “Snow Angels,” “Fool’s Paradise” and “Click” — opted for a figure-hugging gown from Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad’s ready-to-wear Fall/Winter 2023 collection.  

The dress boasted cut-outs with gemstone detailing at the waist. 

Beckinsale opted for a figure-hugging gown from Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad. (AFP)

The event was attended by A-list stars including Jennifer Lopez and her husband Ben Affleck, Eva Longoria, Bella Ramsey, Jodie Foster, Jameela Jamil, Kerry Washington, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Alexandra Shipp and many more. 

British Indian Pakistani actress and activist Jamil wore a heavily-embellished gold mini dress from Dubai-based Tunisian designer Ali Karoui. To complete her dazzling ensemble, she wore reflective gold heels by Jimmy Choo. 

Jamil took to Instagram to share snippets from the event with her followers. “I love Jodie Foster so much,” she captioned a video, and in another she wrote: “Oprah brought on ICONIC Fantasia Taylor Barrino.” 

British Indian Pakistani actress and activist Jamil wore a heavily-embellished gold mini dress. (AFP)

US singer and actress Taylor Barrino also turned to an Arab designer — Yousef Akbar.  

She donned an electric blue jumpsuit by the celebrity-loved Saudi couturier. The ensemble had an asymmetric skirt attached to the waist and a chunky gold chain that crossed over her chest.  

The ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards honors “the women who are influencing Hollywood today from the best red carpet appearances, the women behind the camera, to ELLE’s very own cover stars,” according to the publication’s description.  

This year’s honorees include Lopez, Taylor Barrino, Longoria, Foster, Nina Garcia, America Ferrera, Danielle Brooks, Greta Lee, Lily Gladstone and Taraji P. Henson. 

Tunisian-Moroccan production ‘Backstage’ explores inner lives of multinational dance troupe

Updated 06 December 2023

Tunisian-Moroccan production ‘Backstage’ explores inner lives of multinational dance troupe

JEDDAH: Set against the backdrop of the majestic Atlas Mountains, “Backstage” — the Tunisian-Moroccan production from husband-wife duo Khalil Benkirane and Afef Ben Mahmoud that premiered at the Red Sea International Film festival on Monday night — is a story that contains multitudes. 

Following a fateful night in the lives of a slowly unraveling but close-knit dance troupe, “Backstage” manages to touch on topics such as displacement, climate change, body autonomy, found family, the institution of marriage, and more; all the while slowly zooming the lens into the inner lives of its main characters, all 10 of them.  

Speaking to Arab News at the sidelines of the festival in Jeddah, co-director Ben Mahmoud — who also stars in the film as one of its central characters Aida — says that she began working on the script for the film in 2016. 

“I began my artistic career as a dancer, then stage actor, then actress for cinema and TV. And this journey through all these life arts, of course made a huge impression in my life. And when I moved to cinema, my goal was to bring these two worlds of cinema and dance together because, for me, they are both not that far. And I love them both,” she said.  

Co-director and husband Benkirane said: “I would come home from from work and she would update me as to the new scenes she was working on. My job does not allow me to really get my creative parts, really start the script. But this way worked really, really well. And we usually get on the same wavelength when we watch films. So, it was a beautiful collaboration.”  

“And what I liked about the script is that it has a normal, straight line as far as the development of the narrative. But the structure allowed us to inject certain things that we are concerned with, such as the environment, the right for women to use their body as a tool of work, challenging the notion of marriage, which in the Arab world is so dear to tradition, immigration and going back to the place of origin, which does not satisfy anymore because you have become something else,” he said.  

(AN/ Huda Bashatah) 

The cast, a mix of actors and dancers, features names from across the Arab world including Sofiane Ouissi, Ali Thabet, Abdallah Badis, Salima Abdelwahab, Nassim Baddag and Saleh Bakri. The film also stars dancer Hajjiba Fahmy, who is known for her extensive work with US superstar Beyonce.  

But the most prominent name to jump out from the cast and crew is that of award-winning Belgian choreographer and dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who makes his acting debut with “Backstage.” 

“Dance is really dear to my heart but it is also not always well represented in cinema. And there are only three dance scenes. But even if we have only three scenes, for me it was extremely important to have a big figure because this is going to give more visibility and credibility to what we are trying to do,” Ben Mahmoud said.  

“And it was extremely important for us to have someone such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and we were so lucky to talk to him and to convince him to be with us. And we were lucky because he’s extremely generous and we really collaborated together. We gave him the script, he worked on the script, and we didn’t know what he was going to do with the choreography. But when we saw the movement and how it was so linked to the narrative and how much they give this expression through the body to tell everything without words — this was really amazing,” she said. 

RSIFF announces winners of the Red Sea Souk Awards  

Updated 3 sec ago

RSIFF announces winners of the Red Sea Souk Awards  

DUBAI: The Red Sea International Film Festival on Tuesday announced the winners of the Red Sea Souk Awards, which offers grants to develop and boost new talent from Saudi, Arab and African directors.  

Three juries deliberated to select nine winning feature ideas and two TV series. 

Twenty-four new film projects screened as part of the Red Sea Souk, with 12 titles by filmmakers of African and Arab origin, alongside 12 Red Sea Lodge projects by Saudi, Arab and African directors which have been developed over the last year through workshops and in partnership with the Torino Film Lab.  


The Red Sea Souk Project Market jury awards are supported by the Red Sea Fund, and in the selection were five Saudi projects, eight African projects and eleven projects from the wider Arab region. 

An additional wing of the Project Market is the Work-in-Progress Showcase featuring six feature films by directors who are also of the African or Arab diasporas. All selected Work-In-Progress projects competed for the Red Sea Souk Awards — with two winners to be chosen by the Work-in-Progress Showcase Jury. 

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea Film Foundation, said in a statement: “The winners of this year’s Red Sea Souk Awards demonstrate the rich and varied new visions in filmmaking emerging both from the wider MENA region and from those who have roots here. 

“These directors are the cinematic voices of tomorrow and we are thrilled to play a part in the development of their talent and storytelling which will undoubtedly yield successes and international recognition,” he added.  

Here is the full list of winners:  

Arab Cinema Center will get two supported places on the International Film Festival Rotterdam Producers Lab.  

Saudi winner: Ghaidaa Abuazzah (“By Hasnaa’s Side”) 

Arab winner: Fatma Racha Shehadeh (“The Girl and The Missing Bed”) 

MAD Solutions will receive $50,000 to a project in development, in production or in post production.  

Winner: “Nostalgia: A Life In First Chapter” by Ameer Fakher Eldin 

OTICONS will get a Work-in-Progress film consisting of Music Consulting services worth $5,000 

Winner: “Men in the Sun” by Mahdi Fleifel 

SHIFT STUDIOS will get $12,000 for a promotion package and $8,000 for a full DCP package. 

The $12,000 winners: “Rising Up At Night” by Nelson Makengo and “My Semba” by Hugo Salvaterra 

The $8,000 winner: “Men in the Sun” by Mahdi Fleifel 

TITRAFILM will get $15,000 for a Work-in-Progress film.  

Winner: “Animale” by Emma Benestan 

Arab Radio and Television Network will get $10,000 grant for one Saudi Project in development or production and $50,000 for one Arab project in development or production. 

The $10,000 grant winner: “The Night Whisperer” by Lina Mahmoud 

The $50,000 grant winner: “Love Conquers All” by Danielle Arbid 

CineWaves Films will get $50,000 for a project in development, production or post-production. 

Winner: “Mecca, Berlin” by Majtaba Saeed 

Ithra will get $50,000 for one Saudi project in production or post-production.  

Winner: “The Night Whisperer” by Lina Mahmoud 

MBC Academy/Shahid will get $75,000 for a Saudi project in development, $75,000 for a Saudi project in development or production or post-production and $50,000 for an Arab project in development or post-production. 

The winner of the $75,000 for a Saudi project in development: “In the Beginning, It Is The End” by Ghadeer Binabbas 

The winner of the $75,000 for a Saudi project in development or production or post-production Winner: “By Hasnaa’s Side” by Amaal Youssif 

The winner of the $50,000 for an Arab project in development or post-production: “Madness and Honey Days” by Ahmed Yassin Al-Daradji.

Serieslab Awards got the $10,000 Red Sea Serieslab Award for: “Eye of the Kite” by Saleh Al-Hamad and “Our Son is Prettier” by Hanaa Saleh Alfassi. 

WIP Awards got the Red Sea Souk Post-Production Jury Special Mention Award with a grant of $10,000. The winner is “My Semba” by Hugo Salvaterra.  

The Red Sea Souk Post-Production Award was awarded to “Yunan” by Ameer Fakher Eldin with a grant of $30,000. 

The $50,000 Red Sea Souk Production Award for a Red Sea Lodge project.

Award by Project Market Jury went to: “By Hasnaa’s Side” by Amaal Youssif, “Fantastic Tale” by Vincho Nchogu, “Black Snake” by Naishe Nyamubaya and “My Father Killed Borghiba” by Fatma Riahi.  

The $25,000 Red Sea Souk Jury Special Mention Award went to “Love Conquers” by Danielle Arbid. 

The $35,000 Red Sea Souk Development Award went to “When I Close My Eyes, I See Your Eyes” by Sameh Alaa.  

The $100,000 Red Sea Souk Production Award went to “The Return Of The Prodigal Son” by Rani Massalha.  

Tamer Ruggli’s ‘Back to Alexandria’ starring Nadine Labaki dives into complex mother-daughter relationship

Updated 06 December 2023

Tamer Ruggli’s ‘Back to Alexandria’ starring Nadine Labaki dives into complex mother-daughter relationship

  • Swiss-Egyptian director Tamer Ruggli’s debut feature ‘Back to Alexandria’ stars lauded Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki
  • The film will screen at Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival, with the director saying he expects it will resonate with Arab audiences

DUBAI: Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival has attracted a slew of major titles for cinemagoers to watch before it wraps up on Dec. 9 and one of its most anticipated movies is Swiss-Egyptian director Tamer Ruggli’s debut feature, “Back to Alexandria.”

Starring veteran actors Nadine Labaki and Fanny Ardant, the film explores the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship with a script that features Arabic and French.

Sue (Labaki) is a psychotherapist living in Switzerland who returns to Egypt after 20 years to mend fences with her dying mother, Fairouz (Ardant).

Ruggli’s unconventional flick explores various layers of familial relationships.

The 37-year-old filmmaker told Arab News that he had initially wanted to do cartoons and later turned to film because it brought all the layers – colors, photography, costumes, and makeup – into one universe.

For his first movie, script development took seven years, and it became an ambitious project with a stellar cast.

He said: “We have a great cast of famous Arab actors that accepted to work on this more arthouse kind of film that they were normally used to.”

The film draws extensive references from his childhood.

The film poster for ‘Back to Alexandria.’ (Supplied)

“I grew up listening to my mother’s story on her relationship with her mother, how it affected her — she is the pretext of telling the story. But it’s very inspired by my childhood memories; the people I met growing up and those who have shaped me. I like to say it’s semi-autobiographical,” Ruggli added.

As mother and daughter unearth the past, Sue learns about Fairouz’s love life and better understands the complexities of their relationship.

He said: “Sue has an idealized image of her mother, and she discovers some things about her love life – that she loved someone else and had to marry a different person. She had to sacrifice a part of herself, so she rejected her daughter in a way. It symbolizes the freedom that she didn’t have.”

Aside from examining a contentious mother-daughter relationship, Ruggli has also included the presence of aunts in the film, making it even more relatable to Arab audiences.

“There’s this love-hate relationship with aunts – sometimes they even replace the mother’s role. So, we have different aunts present in the movie.

“For instance, Nadine’s character has this very close relationship with her aunt’s help, which is more human than that she has with her family,” he added.


A post shared by Tamer Ruggli (@tamer_ruggli)

One highlight of the film is the candy pink Cadillac Sue is seen driving around in, imagining conversations about things left unsaid between her and her mother. The car, which belongs to Fairouz, becomes a symbol of the mother’s eccentricity.

Ruggli said: “The car is very feminine and exuberant and is reminiscent of the mother. She’s this flamboyant character that lived in Egypt and always stood out from the crowd.”