Tea with Culture

A podcast about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center - Performances in September 2015 

The line up will include music, theater, dance, poetry, film, and family programs. According to NYUAD Arts Center Executive Artistic Director, Bill Bragin, the season will include "some of the world’s most influential master artists, alongside innovative artists from younger generations, nearly all of whom will be performing in the UAE for the very first time.”

All the events will be free to attend. The aim is to engage with the local community and "to foster relationships between performing artists and the city by encouraging active involvement between artist and audiences".  

The NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center is a great addition to Abu Dhabi and the cultural scene in the UAE. I had a quick tour of the space a few months ago and there are multiple halls in different sizes to be able to accommodate different kinds of productions. I can't wait to attend the upcoming performances, screenings and talks.  

Curated to form a collective tapestry of artistically adventurous experiences, each free and public event – from dance with a scientific twist and songs from post-Independence West Africa, to a Korean laptop ensemble and Arabic jazz – will be held at the University’s Saadiyat Island campus. 

Some of the acts coming to Abu Dhabi between September 2015 and April 2016 

Leading the creation of the public arts community at NYU Abu Dhabi, NYUAD Arts Center Executive Artistic Director, Bill Bragin, said: “Abu Dhabi is an incredible nexus of north and south, east and west, a really cosmopolitan city that is investing in arts and culture as part of its identity. 

At NYU Abu Dhabi, we are looking to be a part of this dynamic and transformative effort, by building an arts destination and a cultural sector for Abu Dhabi and the region, by shaping and redefining the arts and by making them accessible. 


You can see the complete line up here and I will post the monthly events on this blog. The events are free to attend and online ticket reservation will be available approximately a week/two weeks before each event. I recommend you add yourself to NYU Abu Dhabi's mailing list to know when tickets are available.

Line up for September 2015: 

Toshi Reagon - Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower: The Concert Version (UAE Premiere) 
Dates: Wednesday and Thursday, 2nd and 3rd September at 8.00pm   
Venue: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi 

Image via Annenberg Center

Adapted from the post-apocalyptic novel by Octavia Butler, the extraordinary American singer-songwriter-guitarist Toshi Reagon’s new opera blends science fiction with African-American spiritualism and deep insights on gender and race to construct a mesmerizing meditation on the future of human civilization.

Written in collaboration with her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon, the iconic singer and founder of the vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Parable of the Sower is a work of rare power and beauty: at once philosophically profound and a wild entertainment.


Kronos Quartet (UAE Debut)
Dates: Wednesday, 16th September at 7.00 and 9.00pm and Thursday, 17th September at 8.00pm   
Venue: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi 

Kronos’ omnivorous approach to repertoire embraces 20th-century masters and contemporary composers, jazz legends and rock gods, world musicians and maverick experimentalists of every stripe.

Now working into its fifth decade, Kronos is building on its celebrated legacy of innovation and mentorship, continuing to chart a bold musical path and inspire generations of fellow musicians.

The ensemble will present three unique programs over two nights in its Gulf debut, including the world premiere of the first new work written as part of its ambitious Fifty For the Future initiative

Wednesday, 16th September at 7.00pm - Good Medicine
Works from Central Asia and the Middle East are featured in this program that includes the world premiere of a work by Malian composer Fode Lassana Diabate. Also included is music by American composer Terry Riley.   

Wednesday, 16th September at 9.00pm - Hold Me, Neighbor
Kronos explores music of Turkey, Greece, Ethiopia and Iran, culminating in composer Aleksandra Vrebalov’s …hold me, neighbor, in this storm…, which juxtaposes sounds from the many cultures in her native Serbia.  

Thursday, 17th September at 8.00pm - One Earth, One Love, One People
Musical journeys into Iran’s carpetweaving community and war-stricken Beirut conclude Kronos’ residency, in this two-part program which includes world premieres by Fode Lassana Diabate and Wu Man, composed for Kronos’ Fifty for the Future project.  


Film screening - Nuwebe  (Middle East Premiere)
Date: Saturday, 19th September at 6.00pm (nprior reservation needed for this screening)
Venue: West Forum, Campus Center


A night of superb filmmaking and a chance to meet and chat with the award-winning Filipino filmmaker, Joseph Israel Laban. A graduate of NYU New York in documentary filmmaking, Joseph currently resides in Manila, Philippines.

He is visiting NYU Abu Dhabi with his feature film Nuwebe, inspired by the actual story of one of the youngest mothers in Philippine history. The film is based on the real-life events of Krista, who was just 9 years old when she became pregnant. Her mother believes that she was impregnated by malevolent supernatural creatures called “nuno sa punso” but the real story will prove to be more complicated than it seems.

There will be a Q&A with the director after the screening and a reception with food and beverages. 


Photo Book Discussions at East Wing on 22nd August 2015

Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album, Newsha Tavakolian, published by Kehrer Verlag

East Wing will host a first of what I hope will be many events dedicated to photo books. The first photo book discussion will take place on Saturday, 22nd August at 3.00pm.  

The event will look at the book and the gallery's current exhibition "Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album" by Newsha Tavakolian (in preparation for the artist's visit the following week) and focus on how to build a strong visual narrative using Newsha's work as a place to start the discussion.

As an aim to foster a community of local and visiting photographers, artists and others who enjoy photography and want to learn more we begin the first in a series of bi-monthly photo book discussions in the gallery.  

The event, which will last about an hour will give those present the opportunity to look more closely at a specific photo book in conjunction with a theme.  


The discussion will last for approximately one hour and attendess will be introduced to Newsha Tavakolian's work and the discussion can be expanded on she visits the gallery next week, on Thursday, 27th August. 

This event is free to attend but you are requested to RSVP to to book your place and to arrive promptly at 3.00pm. The discussion is scheduled to last for an hour. 

Expect a separate update soon about Newsha Tavakolian's exhibition at East Wing, which you must not miss. It's on till 3rd September 2015.   


Event details
Dates: Saturday, 22nd August 2015 at 3.00pm 
Venue: East Wing, Limestone House #12, DIFC, Ritz Carlton Annex, Dubai (location map) 



Alfred Hitchcock's 116th birthday and all his cameos


I will be watching some Alfred Hitchock films to celebrate. Here's a video featuring his cameos in all his films. 




[image via]


Cinema Akil - Here Comes the Sun film screenings in August

La Jetée (Dir: Chris Marker, 1962)

The final month of Cinema Akil's "Here Comes the Sun" will screen the following films in the Cinema Room in A4 Space at Alserkal Avenue

Nosferatu (1922) on 5th, 6th and 7th August at 7.00pm 

Director: F.W. Murnau | 81' | Silent with original orchestral score | Germany | Horror

Empire of the Sun (1987) on 12th, 13th, 14th August at 7.00pm 
Director: Steven Spielberg | 153' | English | USA | Drama, History


Sans soleil / Sunless (1983) preceded by La Jetée (1962) on 19th, 20th, 21st August at 7.00pm
Director: Chris Marker | 100' & 28' | English | France | Documentary, Sci-Fi

Davandeh / The Runner (1984) on 26th, 27th, 28th August at 7.00pm
Director: Amir Naderi | 94' | Farsi | Iran | Drama


The screenings are free to attend. Schedules are subject to change, please check Cinema Akil or Alserkal Avenue's or website or the event page on Facebook for updates. 





Film and TV Viewing Log - July 2015 

Walkabout (Dir: Nicolas Roeg, 1971)
Films directed by Nicolas Roeg 
Walkabout (1971)   ★★★★★
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)  ★★★★
Bad Timing (1980) ★★★★ 
Nicioas Roeg - It's About Time (David Thompson, 2015, BBC documentary)   ★★★★ 

Films directed by Jacques Demy
Bay of Angels (1963)  ★★★★
Donkey Skin (1970)   ★★★ 

Films directed by Fernand Melgar
The Fortress (2008)  ★★★★
Special Flight (2011) ★★★★ 

Films starring Omar Sharif 
Ṣira' Fī al-Wādī /  Struggle in the Valley (Youssef Chahine, 1954, Egypt) ★★★★
Ghaltet Habibi / My Darling's Mistake (Al Sayed Badair 1958, Egypt) ★★★
Law'at Hub / Agony of Love (Salah Abu Seif, 1960, Egypt) ★★★
Hubi al Waheed / My Only Love (Kamal Al Sheikh, 1960, Egypt)  ★★★★ 

Films starring Christopher Lee 
Dracula (Terence Fisher 1958)   ★★★              
Mummy  (Terence Fisher, 1959) ★★★ 
The Skull (Freddie Francis, 1965) ★★★ 

Documentaries featuring Gore Vidal 
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (Nicholas Wrathall, 2013) ★★★★
Best of Enemies (Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon, 2015) ★★★★

Four Star Films ★★★★  
I Don't Want to be a Man (Ersnst Lubitsch, 1918)  
Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931)  
Of Human Bondage (John Cromwell, 1934)   
La signora di tutti / Everybody's Woman  (Max Ophüls, 1934, Italy)   
A Bucket of Blood (Roger Corman, 1959)   
Fruit of Paradise (Věra Chytilová, 1970)  
Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May, 1976)  
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)  
Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004)  
Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)  
Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2013)   
Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) 
The Guest (Adam Wingard, 2014) 
Advantageous (Jennifer Phang, 2015) 

Three Star Films  ★★★
Too Much Johnson (Orson Welles, 1938)  
It Happened Tomorrow (René Clair, 1944)  
D.O.A (Rudolph Maté, 1950)  
Dementia (John Parker, 1955)  
Les fiancés du pont Mac Donald ou Méfiez-vous des lunettes noires (Agnès Varda, 1961)  
The Gypsy Moths (John Frankenheimer, 1969)  
Alice, Sweet Alice ( Alfred Sole, 1976) 
The Skywalk is Gone (Tsai Ming-liang, 2002, Taiwan)  
Fireworks Wednesday (Asghar Farhadi, 2006, Iran)  
The Wave (Dennis Gansel, 2008, Germany) 
The Nine Muses (John Akomfrah, 2010) 
Appropriate Behaviour (Desiree Akhavan, 2014)  
Finding Fela (Alex Gibney, 2014)  
What Happened, Miss Simone?  (Liz Garbus, 2015)  

Two Star Film ★★
They Came Together (David Wain, 2014)    

Humans, Episodes 4-7 (Channel 4, 2015) ★★★★    
True Detective, Season 2, Episodes 3-6 (2015)  ★

Links to previous film and TV viewing log:
January 2015 
February 2015   
March 2015  
April 2015 
May 2015 
June 2015 


Been on hiatus 


The past month has been an extremely difficult one. My father passed away on 3rd July and my family and I have been coping with the loss and grief.  So I hope you understand why the lack of updates here. 

I am trying to slowly get back to the real world, but finding it difficult emotionally. Apart from spending time with my family, I've also been losing myself by watching (even more) films - a way to escape or cope with the pain.

Expect updates on this blog soon, maybe not as frequent, but I hope things will get back to normal soon. 



Film and TV Viewing Log - June 2015 

Tokyo Story (Dir: Yasujirō Ozu, 1953)   

Films directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda 
Still Walking (2008, Japan)  ★★★★
Like Father, Like Son (2014, Japan) ★★★★

Films directed by Pere Portabella 
Nocturno 29  (1968) ★★★★★
Vampir (1970) ★★★★ 

Films starring Elisabeth Moss 

Listen Up Philip (Alex Ross Perry, 2014) ★★★★★
The One I Love (Charlie McDowell, 2014) ★★★★


Five Star Films  ★★★★

Othello (Orson Welles, 1952)   

Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, 1953, Japan) 

The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)  

Al Ard / The Land (Youssef Chahine, 1969, Egypt) 

A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971) 

Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)

Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2014)  

Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014) 


Four Star Films ★★★★

Sunrise: Song of Two Humans (F. W. Murnau, 1927) 

Cross-Roads (John Fitchen, 1955)  

Rocco and his Brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960, Italy) 

Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett, 1961) 

Cul-de-Sac (Roman Polanski, 1966)  

The Round Up (Miklós Jancsó, 1966, Hungary)

Grey Gardens ( Albert Maysles, Muffie Meyer, Ellen Hovde, David Maysles, 1975) 

Vagabond (Agnès Varda , 1985, France)

Cinemania (Stephen KijakAngela Christlieb, 2002) 

Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

Derek Jarman: Life as Art (Andy Kimpton-Nye 2004) 

The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang, 2005, Taiwan)

Coming Attractions (Peter Tscherkassky, 2010) 

Volcano (Rúnar Rúnarsson, 2011, Iceland)

Dawn (Rose McGowan, 2014)  [I recently wrote about it here.] 

Altman (Ron Mann, 2014) 

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon (Mark Hartley, 2014)

Station to Station (Doug Aitken, 2015)


Three Star Films  ★★★

Night Tide (Chris Harrington, 1961)

Ladies and Gentlemen...Mr Cohen (Donald Brittain, Don Owen, 1965) 

Al-Mutamarridun / The Rebels (Tawfiq Saleh, 1966, Egypt) 

Punishment Park (Peter Watkins, 1971)

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Bharat Narulli, 2008)

Our Beloved Month of August (Miguel Gomes, 2008) 

Mammoth (Lukas Moodysson, 2009)  

Ashes (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2012, Thailand)

White Bird in a Blizzard (Gregg Araki, 2014)

Unfriended (Levan Gabriadze, 2015) 

Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow, 2015)   


Two Star Films ★★

Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Jean-François Richet, 2008)

Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 (Jean-François Richet, 2008) 

Wa Fee Al Layl Yarkusn / At Night, They Dance at Night (Isabelle Lavigne, 2010) 

7 Days in Havana (Benicio del Toro, Gaspar Noé, Elia Suleiman, Laurent Cantet,Julio Medem, Pablo Trapero, Juan Carlos Tabío, 2012)




How to be Bohemian, Episodes 1-3  (BBC, 2015) ★★★★

Humans, Episodes 1-3 (Channel 4, 2015) ★★★★

True Detective, Season 2, Episodes 1-2 (2015) ★★





Links to previous film and TV viewing log:
January 2015 
February 2015   
March 2015  
April 2015 
May 2015  



Cinema Akil - Here Comes the Sun film screenings in July 

The series showcases stories and narratives that grapple with concepts relating to sunlight, sunshine and the sun in its many manifestations, featuring films from around the world that span a universe of cinematic styles, directors and genres, including romance, sci-fi, drama and comedy.  

Presented at a time when The Sun takes full command over the city, Here Comes The Sun invites audiences to escape the heat and tuck themselves away into the Alserkal Avenue A4 screening room, a shelter of sorts for a cinematic confrontation with The Sun, our chosen protagonist for the summer.

Here's the line up for July (you can see the entire programme here): 
El Sol Del Membrillo / The Quince Tree Sun (1992) on 1st, 2nd, 3rd July at 9.00pm 
Director: Victor Erica | 133 min| Spanish | Spain | Art, Drama

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) on 8th, 9th, 10th July at 9.00pm
Director: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris | 101 min | English | USA | Comedy, Adventure, Drama  

Sunset Boulevard (1950) on 15th and 16th July at 9.00pm
Director: Billy Wilder  | 110 min | English | USA | Film Noir, Romance 

Utomlyonnye solntsem / Burnt by the Sun (1994) on 22nd, 23rd, 24th July at 7.00pm 
Director: Nikita Mikhalkov | 135 min | Russian | Russia | Drama, History, War 

La prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV  / The Rise of Louis XIV (1966) on 29th, 30th, 31st July | 7pm 
Director: Roberto Rossellini | 90 min | French, Latin | France | Drama, History

The screenings are free to attend. Schedules are subject to change, please check Cinema Akil or Alserkal Avenue's or website or the event page on Facebook for updates. 



Jaws 40th Anniversary Tribute by Robert Jones 

Steven Spielberg's Jaws was released 40 years ago in June 1975. The film that made me, and I'm certain almost everyone else that that watched it, not want to go swimming after watching it. 

Here's a tribute video by Robert Jones retelling the story in three minutes. 



Robert Jones on Vimeo 


Dawn by Rose McGowan 


Rose McGowan's short film Dawn was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival this January. It is now available online and you should watch it. If you have a daughter or a sister, you should make them watch it too. 

McGowan recently discussed  "institutional stupidity and institutional infantilization of actresses" in this interview after she posted this on Twitter: 



High five to Rose McGowan, we need more female voices like her. And from now on, I will only refer to Adam Sandler as Madam Panhandler.  


The following is a post on YouTube by McGowan about her short film, Dawn:

Dear viewer,

Dawn is a cautionary tale. We hurt girls with casual negligence. We change the course of lives with a stereotypical view shared thoughtlessly. We shape the minds of the innocent. Let's think different and be better.

My inspirations were varied - I wanted the color palette of The Parent Trap (1961) the loneliness of an Edward Hopper painting, the driving tension of Night of the Hunter mixed with Hemingway's unsparing style of editing. These greats are my teachers. I layered a lot into Dawn and feel it's best watched twice.

Please enjoy for free and pass it on. THOUGHT+ART = FREEDOM




"Women and the way they look at each other and feel about themselves are at the core of my work. The 1960s were a turbulent time for women, and I wanted to study that and express it through Dawn." Rose McGowan