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Slidefest #14 - 22nd October 2014

© Yasser Alwan (from Akkasah: Center for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi)


The 14th edition of Slidefest organised by Gulf Photo Plus is back this month after a long summer break. The latest edition will take place on Wednesday, 22nd October at 7pm in the Knowledge Village Auditorium

If you've not been to Slidefest before, it's a free community event hosted by Gulf Photo Plus where photographers take the stage to share unique, personal photography projects that run the gamut of genres including landscape and portrait photography, travel and fine art photography and much more. The event also aims to bring photographers (amateurs and pros) and people from the photography community together where people can network, connect and share stories.


Here's the line up of presenters: 


Farah Al Balooshi

Farah Al Balooshi will present a series of minimal black and white fine art photographs that capture man-made and natural architecture in the purest and simplest forms.



Özge Calafato  

From the Yasser Alwan Collection 

Özge Calafato currently works with the New York University in Abu Dhabi, and will be presenting a project called Akkasah, which is the name of the Centre for Photography at the University.  

Akkasah explores the histories and contemporary practices of photography in the Arab world. It fosters the scholarly study of these histories and practices in dialogue with other photographic cultures and traditions from around the world. Through a range of activities, the centre also supports the developing photographic culture in the UAE.  

Ozge will be presenting work from the first photography collection that Akkasah acquired, Vernacular Photography from Egypt: The Yasser Alwan Collection. 



Jack Dabaghian 

Jack Dabaghian unfolds a brilliant mix of story-telling and colourful visualisation while showcasing tribal traditions, fashion and daily routines, all told with unfettered honesty. He engages with his subjects in a way that puts them at ease resulting in an honest representation of their individual lives. 



Gerald Donovan 

Gerald Donovan is a photographer based in Dubai. For the last 18 months he has been working with Dubai Film Productions on creating a revolutionary 360 degree immersive tour of Dubai that is due to launch in December 2014.  "Little Planet" is a timelapse of Dubai International Airport.  Gerald explains,

"Later this year at a groundbreaking website will be launched that will enable you to explore Dubai from anywhere in the world utilising state of the art 360 degree multimedia.  As a sneak preview of the kind of amazing content to come, you can experience what it's like to be standing on the top of the control tower at Dubai International Airport. The timelapse was shot over a 30 hour period depicting over 1,000 planes landing, taking off, and taxiing at the airport." 


Brian Kerrigan

Brian Kerrigan has headed the photo department at The National since the paper’s inception in 2008. In addition to leading a team of editors, photographers and multimedia staff, he’s also a passionate photographer.

With camera in tow, Brian has spent the past two years documenting life in the United Arab Emirates shooting nightlife, street culture and portraiture.  Kerrigan will be sharing a selection of his UAE work for Slidefest.



Catalin Marin 

Catalin Marin will be presenting a series titled "When Time Becomes a Loop". Catalin explains, 

 "Ever since I started learning photography, I have always been fascinated with photographing rivers, waterfalls and oceans. A photograph is a single moment in time and yet a body of water is something that's constantly moving and changing. Sometimes, these changes are so slow that our eyes cannot really perceive them and this is where long exposure photographs come into play. Keeping the camera shutter open for long period of times allowed me to capture landscapes which we will never truly see, but which we can easily imagine."



Shahid Mohammed  

Shahid Mohammed will be presenting a series of images titled The Dream Sellers of Kolkata.  In his images he examines the relationship between the buyer and seller in various locations throughout Kolkata.  He feels that in our modern age bar codes are replacing with conversations, care and concern.  

Where once the relationship between the buyer and seller was a close connection, this has begun to be replaced with a fast and impersonal exchange. Shahid's work highlights merchants in Kolkata who still have that connection with the community, still know their customers by name, and greet them with a smile.




Event details:
Date: Wednesday, 22nd October at 7pm
Location: Knowledge Village Auditorium, Dubai (location map)
Free entry.


Happy Birthday Angela Lansbury 


Earlier today, one of my favourite people I follow on Twitter, Self Styled Siren posted the following:

Happy birthday to Angela Lansbury, 89 today! 


Made me remember how much I adore Angela Lansbury and her TV series Murder She Wrote. I loved how unstoppable she was in every episode, solving crimes and getting the bad guys.

I've not seen much of her lately, but maybe I should follow in the footsteps of Slade Sohmer who recently completed watching every episode of Murder She Wrote. In an interview with The Awl he says, 


Dame Angela Lansbury's acting is worthy of her twelve Emmy nominations in twelve seasons and four Golden Globe wins. And in the memetic era we're in now, drenched in our lust for irony and an inside joke, it was immediately refreshing to remember what unabashed sincerity and earnestness looked like. It's neither snark nor smarm; it's schmaltz, but the best kind. Don't sleep on a cozy mystery drama.

The murders themselves are just serialized rewards, though. The show is a broader case study in Jessica Fletcher Gives Zero Fucks. She's kind and sweet and polite, with a most neighborly etiquette.

But she's also a ruthless advocate for justice, fearless in the face of intimidation and incapable of buying your weak bullshit. When the killer says "I was at a restaurant 'til 9:30," and she calmly refutes, "No, I don't think you were, Jerry," she does it with equal parts elegance and ferocity. She walks down every dark hallway, she opens every locked door, she meets every lying sack of shit with inquisitive charm. And she never judges you.  Slade Sohmer via The Awl 



Towards the end of the interview Sohmer adds, 

You all can keep Beyoncé, Angela Lansbury is the one true queen, king, dame, diva.


Agree. 100%.


Happy birthday Dame Angela Lansbury. Wishing you many more happy and healthy years ahead of you.,_She_Wrote 


Exhibition - Darkened Cities by Thierry Cohen at East Wing 

© Thierry Cohen

When I first looked at
Thierry Cohen's series Darkened Cities, I thought of how sad and poetic they are, beautiful images of what could be. 

It's a series of work that must be seen in person, looking at the work online does not do it any justice. So make sure you go to East Wing in Dubai to see this series. The exhibition is on from 16th October - 20th November 2014. 

Look out for an interview with Thierry Cohen soon, but for now, here's more about Darkened Cities, via East Wing:  


Photographer Thierry Cohen Imagines World Cities Without Lights, his dazzling photographs are rich not only in implication and in sheer visual appeal, but in technical ingenuity. The laborious process of creating his nights-cape images reveals exactly what a specific city’s inhabitants would see when gazing skyward on a clear night if pollution — atmospheric and, even more importantly, light pollution — were not obstructing the view.

The method he employs to produce his pictures is, in its own way, as fascinating as the result. After photographing a cityscape, Cohen positions himself on that city’s exact same geographical latitude in a desert — often thousands of miles away — and takes a photograph, facing the same direction, at the same sidereal time (a scale based on the Earth’s rate of rotation relative to fixed stars) as in the city itself. 


© Thierry Cohen

“The best way to show the stars that are no longer [visible from the city] is to simply put them back in their place,” Cohen says.

“I use the same techniques [as early photography innovators], simply with different tools,” Cohen explains.  

Despite the state-of-the-art digital manipulation he brings to bear, Cohen compares his procedure to techniques utilized by old (sometimes very old) masters of the craft. Like Gustave Le Gray, who in the 1850s merged images of seascapes with sky scenery, Cohen also combines two “scape” pictures — a cityscape and a star-sprayed nightscape — in order to build his utterly singular photographs.


© Thierry Cohen

Cohen has traveled the world and shuttled between bustling cities and empty, silent deserts in pursuit of his vision. For his Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo photos, he traveled to the Atacama Desert in Chile. For New York, he travelled to Black Rock Desert, Nevada. 

Beyond the technical challenges that he’s faced, Cohen has also endured what might be termed more prosaic, if no less intense, human-made hurdles. When he ventured into the Western Sahara, for example, to create his Hong Kong nightscape, he had to be escorted. Due to the conflict between the Polisario Front and Morocco and the prevalence of countless land mines that still pock the territory, it was far too dangerous for him to wander the desert alone. 


© Thierry Cohen

“That is when the project went further than talking about pollution,” he says. “It became something political. The sky is a link between human beings. It is a representation of what earth should be — without borders and without war.”

Although his photographs interrogate the stresses and the benefits — in fact, the very nature of urban living — Cohen started the project with a more basic goal: namely, to create utopian (and, in a sense, imaginary) photographs that let the viewer dream.

Ultimately, though, what he’s trying to do is bring to the city the silence he felt in the desert. “I am creating a bridge between the two environments,” he says.  




Exhibition details 
Date: 16th October - 20th November 2014
Hours: Saturday through Thursday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm 
Venue: Limestone House #12, Dubai International Financial Center (location map)  


One additional pick for Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2014 - Two Days, One Night


My last post featured my top 25 picks for the upcoming Abu Dhabi Film Festival. After I shared my selection, I realised I missed out on one more film that is a must see. I somehow missed it when I went through the film list. So here it is, one more to add to the list. 


Two Days, One Night 


Why? Its received rave reviews since its premiere in Cannes earlier this year, where it got a 15 minute standing ovation. Marillion Coltillard's performance has been highly praised. Her character is looking for sympathy, for solidarity, a film that looks at choices humans make, doing the right thing versus doing what is necessary. 




My earlier post featuring my top 25 films to see at this festival.  



Event details
Dates:  23rd October - 1st November 2014
Venue: Emirates Palace Hotel and Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi
Film schedule:



My Top 25 Picks for Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2014

The eighth edition of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival will take place this month, from 23rd October - 1st November 2014. I missed the festival last year, but hoping to watch as many films as I can this year. 

This year's edition includes 197 films from 61 countries which will be screened in Emirates Palace and Vox Cinemas in Marina Mall.

A selection of restored classics like Rebel Without A Cause, Fistful of Dollars and Mary Poppins is also part of  the line up, plus a special screening of restored films by François Truffaut (screening in this part of the world for the first time).

I had a look at the programme and here are my top 25 picks (full features and documentaries) and why: 


20,000 Days on Earth 


This is in my list of favourite music related documentaries after I watched it at the Berlinale in February earlier this year.  It's funny, personal and touching.

"20,000 Days On Earth takes us deep into the heart of how myth, memory, love and loss, shape our lives, every single day." (via

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night


An Iranian vampire western set in a ghost town of "Bad City". That's why. 

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence 


The title. It also won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival last month

The Color of Pomegranates

Jean-Luc Godard said this about it in the 1970s, "I think you have to live at least 15 miles away and feel the need to walk there on foot to see [The Colour of Pomegranates]. If you feel that need and give it that faith, the film can give you everything you could wish." (via

El Ott 

Its director, Ibrahim El Batout is one of my favourite filmmakers from Egypt. Always moved by his depiction of malaise in Egyptian society. This one is about selling organs of kidnapped street children. 

From A to B

A road movie from Abu Dhabi to Beirut by Ali F Mostafa (his last feature film City of Life was set in Dubai). 

In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten)


A Norwegian black comedy crime thriller.

La Sapienza 

An architect looking for spiritual and artistic renewal by travelling to study the work of 17th century architect Francesco Borromini. (I know the feeling.) 



The Return by Andrey Zvyagintsev is currently in my list of top 10 favourite films. So I don't need much convincing to watch his latest film. Plus, I've been reading very positive reviews since its premiere in Cannes last May. 

Magical Girl


According to, "Fun and disturbing, strange and yet somehow entirely plausible, the film tells the story of three different groups of people and their random connections, and how those connections lead to disaster." 

Manila in the Claws of the Night


One of the restored classics screening at this festival. Plus, "When it first screened at Cannes in 1978, the word around the festival had it that Manila was a "dirty" movie, perhaps because it's characters were criminals, homosexuals, and the homeless, but also, perhaps, because it had the gall to treat poverty as an ignoble tragedy for which violence is a rational response." (via

Memories on Stone


"After the fall of Saddam, childhood friends Hussein and Alan decide to make a film about the genocide of Iraqi Kurds in 1988. To tell the truth and to come to terms with their own identity, it`s worth putting everything on the line, even their lives." (via

National Diploma


A documentary about a group of Congolese high school students fighting a corrupt education system. 

No One's Child


Based on a true story set in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the mid-1980s about a feral boy who was found living among wolves in a forest in the mountains. 

Point and Shoot


Winner of Best Documentary at Tribeca Film Festival this year, about the American citizen Matt Dykes who was imprisoned in Libya as a member of a revolutionary group in 2011.

Return to Homs


"Filmed over three years in Homs, Syria, the film accompanies two outstanding young men from the time they are dreaming of freedom and defending pacifism, to the time when choices are forced to be different.

Basset, the 19 years old national football team goalkeeper, turning into an iconic demonstration leader and singer, then, becoming a fighter and Ossama, a 24 years old renowned citizen-cameraman who is critical, pacifist, and ironic, as his views change till he is detained by the regime's security forces.

It is the story of a city, which the world heard of a lot, but never really got close to. Return to Homs is a modern times epic of youth in war, and of forced choices." (via

Sounds of the Sea


Nujoom Al Ghanem is a poet and a leading film maker from the UAE who has been making films since the 1990s. Her films are usually sensitive portrayals of individuals in this country and I am certain we can expect the same in her latest film, about a famous old sea singer who "wishes to cross Umm Al Quwain Creek on a fishing boat for the last time and sing one of his folklore songs to the fishermen".  



"Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Rakshan Banietemad ends her eight-year hiatus from feature filmmaking to make pointed remarks about the necessity of socially engaged cinema with this ingenious, mosaic-like narrative, which knits together the stories of seven characters to create a microcosm of Iranian working-class society." (via

The Look of Silence


The sequel to Joshua Oppenheimer's extremely chilling The Act of Killing. This one tells the story from the victims' point of view. 

Salt of the Earth


A film by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, and an ode to renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado.


This film has been getting rave reviews ever since it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Set in Wadi Rum in 1916, it's a "bedouin story of brotherhood and betrayal". 

"Theeb [Wolf] lives with his Bedouin tribe in a forgotten corner of the Ottoman Empire. Having recently lost his father, it falls to Theeb's brother, Hussein, to raise him. Hussein tries to teach Theeb the Bedouin way of life, but the young boy is more interested in mischief than mentorship. Their lives are interrupted with the arrival of a British Army Officer and his Guide on a mysterious mission.

Unable to refuse help to his guests for fear of dishonouring his late father’s reputation, Hussein agrees to escort the pair to their destination, a water-well on the old pilgrimage route to Mecca. Fearful of losing his brother, Theeb chases after Hussein and embarks on a treacherous journey across the Arabian Desert. Since the outbreak of the First World War, this harsh terrain has become the hunting ground of Ottoman mercenaries, Arab revolutionaries and outcast Bedouin raiders. If Theeb is to survive he must quickly learn about adulthood, trust and betrayal. He must live up to the name his Father gave him." (via



The film received a 10 minute standing ovation in Cannes earlier this year where it premiered. Its director, Abderrahmane Sissako broke down in tears during the press conference, discussing the film's depiction of militant jihadists takeover in Northern Mali and its impact on the people living there. 

"It's difficult...We become more and more indifferent to the horrors if we're not careful" Abderrahmane Sissako (via



Won Best Film at Sundance in January this year, and another one with rave reviews. The film looks at ambition and what it takes to seek and achieve greatness and perfection. 

Winter Sleep


A film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and a winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's films are subtle and slow (this one is 196 minutes long), so you will need to surrender yourself to see where he will take you mentally and emotionally. 

Special screenings of François Truffaut's films

Because it's François Truffaut. List of films include The 400 Blows, Day for Night, Jules and Jim, The Last Metro, The Man Who Loved Women, Small Change, The Wild Child





Event details
Dates:  23rd October - 1st November 2014
Venue: Emirates Palace Hotel and Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi
Film schedule:


Flow with Balqis Al Rashed 


Balqis Al Rashed is a Saudi visual artist based in Riyadh. She recently shared a very short clip of her with a hoola hoop that has been making its round on Facebook.

Despite it being 16 seconds long, I was mesmerised with her movements and was quite taken with her words about her connection to natural flow and movement of her soul

I got in touch with her asking if I can share this video and words on my blog and she very graciously said yes. She also added this video is part a bigger project that she has been developing for the past year and will be sharing a longer version in the near future. 

For now, enjoy this very short version, and if you share it with others, please don't let this be about a veiled Saudi girl dancing with a hoola hoop. It's much more than that. 



I have developed a love for the circle. The lessons behind the hoop are beyond physical. I found in it the healing power of joy and self expression. The biggest lesson of all is to: flow. Flow?

Flow - move with no resistance, with complete freedom. The hoop became a tool of meditation and soulful articulation. It always connected me to the natural flow and movement of my soul.

In this circle, it is safe to flow and to be, just because. In that space, I am free - free of resistance, free of pain, free of fears. This is where peace resides. This is where joy springs. This is where the child in me is free to safely and joyfully play. Breaking all false boundaries. Breaking free of contradictions, delusions, and resistance to become all that I am, all that I ever was.  

Balqis Al Rashed


Read Balquis' complete blogpost here.


[Hat tip Jane Aldersley]


David Lynch's Twin Peaks returns in 2016

I nearly fell off the sofa when I read this announcement. I'm SO EXCITED and I just can't hide it.



The groundbreaking television phenomenon, Golden Globe® and Peabody Award-winner TWIN PEAKS will return as a new limited series on SHOWTIME in 2016. Series creators and executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost will write and produce all nine episodes of the limited series, and Lynch will direct every episode. Set in the present day, TWIN PEAKS will continue the lore of the original series, providing long-awaited answers and a satisfying conclusion for the series’ passionate fan base.

Widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential broadcast series of all time, TWIN PEAKS followed the inhabitants of a quaint northwestern town who were stunned after their homecoming queen Laura Palmer is shockingly murdered. The town's sheriff welcomed the help of FBI agent Dale Cooper, who came to town to investigate the case. As Cooper conducted his search for Laura's killer, the town's secrets were gradually exposed. The mystery that ensued set off an eerie chain of events that plunged the inhabitants of Twin Peaks into a darker examination of their very existence. Twenty-five years later, the story continues...



via The Playlist 


Sub-Sonic Live in Dubai: Jagwar Ma | Zahed Sultan | Andy Buchan

Sub-Sonic Live is part of Fred Perry's Subculture music initiative promoting live music and club culture.

Over the past year, there have been two Sub-Sonic Live events (which I've sadly missed) and the third one will take place on Thursday, 23rd October, which I don't intend to miss.

The thrid edition of Sub-Sonic Live in Dubai will feature Jagwar Ma, Zahed Sultan, Andy Buchan

Fred Perry is bringing Sub-Sonic Live back to the city on October 23rd, with headline act Jagwar Ma. The Sydney-born, London-based alternative/electronica 3-piece will be making their debut performance in Dubai.

Sharing the stage with Jagwar Ma, is award winning Kuwati Zahed Sultan known for his eclectic boundary breaking beats, taking inspiration from the likes of Radiohead, Massive Attack, and Bjork. 

The third act to play at Sub-Sonic this year is Dubai's very own Andy Buchan. Award winning British-born Andy will keep the crowd going with his latest selections of indie and dance beats.


Tickets are limited with only 500 available on a first come first serve basis and available at and selected Fred Perry shops (early bird tickets AED 100 and at the door AED 150). 

If, like me,  you've been missing music gigs in Dubai that do not feature mainstream acts, this one's for you.   

Here's what to expect. 

Jagwa Mar  


Zahed Sultan

The video below features Zahed Sultan talking about his work and process, take from a 4-day residency in Amman, Jordan in March 2014. 


Andy Buchan
Andy Buchan is on of my favourite Dubai based DJs. He launched Loaded a few years ago (currently on hiatus), so excited to see him behind the decks again.  




Event details
Date: Thursday, 23rd October 2014 9.30pm - 3.00am
Venue: Dubai International Marine Club 
Tickets:  Early Bird Tickets - AED 100 | Tickets At The Door - AED 150
Event page on Facebook  




Eid Al Adha 2014

To everyone celebrating Eid Al Adha, I wish you, your family and friends Eid Mubarak.  

Artwork by Tulip Hazbar.  



Exhibition: The Other Hundred at East Wing 

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu, Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Other Hundred is a photography initiative created as a counterpoint to popular media's 'rich lists', such as the Forbes 100. Its aims to highlight stories of people from around the world who are not rich, but deserve to be celebrated. 

This initiative was launched in Hong Kong in 2013 by Chandran Nair, Founder and CEO of The Global Institute For Tomorrow( GIFT), an independent pan-Asian think tank based in Hong Kong. He describes The Other Hundred as follows: 

"While the project is aimed to shed light on the unspoken majority, it does not attempt to celebrate poverty or criticize wealth. The goal of 'The Other Hundred' is both to inform and to provoke thought.

The implication of many of the rich lists and articles put out by the media communicates that being rich is the only way to succeed, or live a life of meaning. The reality is that the majority of the people in the world are not rich and we wanted to tell their side of the story." 

East Wing is exhibiting work from The Other Hundred project which includes photo-stories from 91 countries across six continents.

The exhibition is on till Friday, 10th October 2014.  

Ari Jala Rafa'at, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq


Leo Kwok, Hong Kong, China

Thomas Rommel, Karate, Ouagadougon, Burkina Faso

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu, Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo



Exhibition details
Date: On till Friday, 10th October 2014
Hours: Saturday through Thursday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm  
Venue: East Wing, Limestone House # 12, Dubai International Financial Center, Dubai (location map)