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Online screenings of films selected for the 71st Venice International Film Festival

Io sto con la sposa (On The Bride's Side) - Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande, Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry

The Venice International Film Festival is one on my wish list of film festival I'd like to attend. The 71st edition of the festival starts today, but sadly I won't be attending this year.

But I was quite pleased to hear some of the films selected for the festival will be screened online (EUR 4 per film) for a limited period for the first 400 people who buy a ticket.

Full details and schedule can be found here. I've already booked my tickets, so will be enjoying a mini Venice International Film Festival at home. There are 11 films in total, here are my top 5: 

The President - Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Playing from 27th August - 1st September 2014


In an imaginary village in the Caucasus, a President is on the run with his five-year-old grandson following a coup d’état. The two travel across the lands that the President once governed.

Now, disguised as a street musician to avoid being recognized, the former dictator comes into contact with his people, and gets to know them from a different point of view.

Book here: 

H. - Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia
Playing from 28th August - 2nd September 2014 


H. is a modern interpretation of a classic Greek tragedy in which two women, each named Helen, live out their mirrored lives of one another in the town of Troy, NY. The first Helen is in her 60s, lives with her husband Roy, and takes care of a small, extremely lifelike baby doll called a “Reborn Doll,” which she cares for as a living baby. 

The second Helen is in her 30s, has a successful art career with her partner Alex, and is four months pregnant. One night, something falls out of the sky and explodes over the town. In the aftermath of this event, bizarre and unexplainable things begin to happen.

Many people in the town go missing—Helen’s husband being one of them—and unnatural cloud formations begin appearing in the sky. Meanwhile, the two Helen’s find themselves, and their lives spinning out of control.

Book here: 

Blood Cells - Joseph Bull, Luke Seomore 
Playing from 29th August - 3rd September 2014


Britain, the present. Adam, the son of Irish immigrant parents, was expected to grow up and settle into the security of his family’s farm. The Foot and Mouth livestock epidemic of 2001 destroyed all of that. After the catastrophe, Adam’s family imploded and he abandoned his home.

He has spent the years since on the nomadic fringes of British society, cycling through transitory jobs and transitory relationships, adrift from his family and past. When his younger brother Aiden reaches out to him to announce the birth of his first child—Adam is about to become an uncle—there is an ultimatum attached: come home now, or never come home again.

Adam embarks on a journey home that is at once tortured and exhilarating, a panoramic tour through the broken and beautiful margins of Britain. As eruptions from his secret past begin to emerge, Adam attempts to break free from a self-imposed exile that must now end before it swallows him for good.

Book here:  

Bypass - Duane Hopkins
Playing from 2nd - 7th September 2014 

The story of Tim, a young man from the English working class. He needs to earn money, he is expecting a son, he has just lost his mother.

He is ill, but it is not clear just how ill. As the pressure mounts, the illness worsens and one day he wakes up in a hospital bed. But in the meantime, his son is born.

Book here: 

Io sto con la sposa (On The Bride's Side) - Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele Del Grande, Khaled Soliman Al Nassiry
Playing from 4th - 9th September 2014 


This is the one I am looking forward to the most, ever since I read "These guys faked a wedding to smuggle refugees and filmed it" a couple of months ago. 

A Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan who entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing the war in Syria. They decide to help them complete their journey to Sweden – and hopefully avoid getting themselves arrested as traffickers – by faking a wedding.

With a Palestinian friend dressed up as the bride and a dozen or so Italian and Syrian friends as wedding guests, they cross halfway over Europe on a four-day journey of three thousand kilometres.

This emotionally charged journey not only brings out the stories and hopes and dreams of the five Palestinians and Syrians and their rather special traffickers, but also reveals an unknown side of Europe – a transnational, supportive and irreverent Europe that ridicules the laws and restrictions of the Fortress in a kind of masquerade which is no other than the direct filming of something that really took place on the road from Milan to Stockholm from the 14th to the 18th of November 2013.

Book here: 


Vantage Point Sharjah 2 at SAF Art Spaces, Sharjah 

© Yazan Khalili

A couple of months ago, there was a call for submission from the Sharjah Art Foundation to submit photos following the theme of "Portraits and People in the UAE" for the second Vantage Point exhibition. 

A selection was made last month and the exhibition opens later this week, on Saturday, 30th August in Building GH, SAF Art Spaces, Al Mureijah, Heritage Area in Sharjah at 6.30pm. 


Vantage Point Sharjah 2 is the second iteration of one of Sharjah Art Foundation’s initiatives focused on public programming and community outreach. VPS2 started with an open call announced in June 2014 to photographers residing in the UAE.

This year the open call invited photographers to submit works centred on the theme of portraits and people and received a large number of applications from professional photographers, artists and students.

Vantage Point Sharjah 2 presents a broad selection of works, the aim of the programme is to foster the development of local photographers and encourage engagement with the cultural community in the Emirates. 


I am happy to say yours truly is included in this exhibition. So if you're in the neighbourhood, please drop by and say hello.

Following the opening, there will be a film screening of the feature-length documentary film Flying Paper by Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill at 8.30pm in Building P at SAF’s art spaces in Al Mureijah. 

Flying Paper is the uplifting story of Palestinian children in Gaza on a quest to shatter the Guinness World Record for the most kites ever flown. It showcases the creative resilience of these children making and flying kites despite the odds. The film has been co-produced with young Palestinians in Gaza trained by the filmmakers through a youth media program called Voices Beyond Walls.

While the record-breaking event is what drives the film’s narrative arc, it is the everyday stories of the young kite makers that will touch audiences through their humor and playful spirit. The film seeks to humanize the conflict through a touching cinematic rendering of the fascinating kite culture among children as a form of creative resistance in Gaza.





Event details
Dates: 30th August - 3rd December 2014 (opening night, Saturday, 30th August 2014 at 6.30pm | film screening at 8.30pm
Venue: Building GH, SAF Art Spaces, Al Mureijah, Heritage Area (location map)
Free entry. 



Save the date - Blog Party on 4th September 2014


The Culturist turns 4 ¾ years old this September, and I’d like to throw a party to celebrate with family, friends and the readers of this blog (at least the ones based in Dubai).  

Venue: Nawwara Lounge at the Mariott Marquis on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai 

More details will be shared soon. 


Sound Art Film and Discussion Programme at Tashkeel - presented by Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver


Sound art isn't something we experience in Dubai very often, but I'm glad to say, starting this September this will change (hopefully). 

Tashkeel's resident sound artists Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver will present weekly film screenings, listening sessions and discussions this September, part of three major projects they will be showing throughout the UAE (including their participation in the 20th International Symposium for Electronic Art in November), culminating with a show at Tashkeel itself in early 2015. 

Entrance is free with some complimentary refreshments. Below is the full line up. Personally, I'm really excited about this, and hope you will be too. 



Wednesday, 3rd September 2014 at 7pm (duration 90 minutes) 

The Art of Listening  
Featuring extracts from movies Four American Composers: John Cage directed by Peter Greenaway, Learning to Listen by Dan Linn-Pearl, Marianna Roe and Andi Spowart and from the radio show The Listeners by Sarah Blunt

Introduction by Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver
Guest speaker: UAE based, US sound artist Jonny Farrow   

Four American Composers

Learning to Listen



Wednesday, 10th September 2014 at 7pm (duration 90 minutes) 

What is Sound Art? 
Featuring extracts from Learning to Listen by Dan Linn-Pearl, Marianna Roe and Andi Spowart, Water Walk by John Cage - Making Sounds by David Toop and A History of Sound Art by J Milo Taylor

Introduction by Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver
Speaker: Chris Weaver


Learning to Listen

Water Walk - John Cage  

Wednesday, 17th September 2014 (duration 90 minutes) 

Curating Sound Art
Featuring extracts on female sonic artists, curating sound panels, and Sonic Art Boom - The Art of Noise by Sara Jane Hall

Introduction by Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver
Guest speakers: Aleksei Afansiev (sound director and Green Art Gallery manager), Karim Sultan (music producer, The Third Line operations manager and Kalimat Magazine founding editor) 

Sonic Art Boom - The Art of Noise



Wednesday 24th September 2014 at 7pm (duration 90 minutes) 

Sound as a Genre and Protagonist 
Featuring extracts from Fuego en Castilla by José Val del Omar, The House is Black by Forough Farrokhzad and Weekend by Walter Ruttmann.    

Opening Performance: a work in progress performance of an experimental choir of architects, planners and surveyors as part of a forthcoming sound installation by Weaver and Bradley. 

Introduction by Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver 
Speaker: Fari Bradley 


Fuego en Castilla - José Val del Omar


The House is Black by Forough Farrokhzad 





If you're in Dubai, don't miss this. Here's a map with directions on how to get to Tashkeel  



Bicycle by Michael B.Clifford

Bicycle is a new documentary that looks cycling culture in the UK. It is screening in cinemas across the UK and some international film festivals and the DVD will be released mid September.
Bicycle a 90 minute documentary, asks the question why is cycling and the bicycle back in fashion? The film, which is directed by BAFTA winning director and keen cyclist Michael B.Clifford tells the story of cycling in the land that invented the modern bicycle, it’s birth, decline and re birth from Victorian origins to today.

The film weaves bicycle design, sport and transport through the retelling of some iconic stories and features interviews with notable contributors Sir Dave Brailsford, Gary Fisher, Chris Boardman, Ned Boulting, Sir Chris Hoy, Tracy Moseley, Mike Burrows and many more plus great archive, animation and music.  

Bicycle is a humorous, lyrical and warm reflection on the bicycle and cycling and its place in the British national psyche. 


A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film by Tony Zhou


A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film by Tony Zhou looks at how filmmakers handle scenes with text messages and computers on screen. Quite like how this subject has been disected in this clip and by including good and bad examples.

Is there a better way of showing a text message in a film? How about the internet? Even though we’re well into the digital age, film is still ineffective at depicting the world we live in. Maybe the solution lies not in content, but in form.



RIP Lauren Bacall


Farewell Lauren Bacall. I love this from Glenn Kenny's tribute to Lauran Bacall

She had a life full of rough patches that she bore with grace, and in her later years she impressed and sometimes terrified as an interview subject who brooked no bullshit and told it like she saw it, even to the extent of tattling a bit on her discoverer Mr. Hawks. And she was also Lauren Bacall, for heaven's sake.

She made being Lauren Bacall look pretty...heavy, actually. But also fun. How could it not have been, even if only a little bit? 



Watch this Charlie Rose interview with Lauren Bacall from 1994. She talks about her life, her career, love, companionship, pleasures of being alone - the importance of learning to live alone, friendship, her fears and not dwelling on the past. 



RIP Lauren Bacall 1924-2014 



RIP Robin Williams 

The world has lost a great comedian and a fine actor. My first Robin Williams experience was in the late 1970s watching Mork and Mindy. Since then, I've laughed and cried watching him in many, many films. Read this touching obituary A constant quality: Robin Williams, 1951-2014 by Matt Zoller Seitz highlighting his career in film. 


Here's an interview from 2001 with James Lipton from one of my favourite TV shows, Inside the Actors Studio. It is outrageous, hilarious and heartwarming.

Towards the end of the interview, there's this:

James Lipton: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Robin Williams: There's seating near the front. The concert begins at five. There'll be Mozart, Elvis and then one of your choosing. Or just a nice if heaven exists to know that there's laughter. That'll be a good thing, just to hear God goes "Two Jews walk into a bar...".




RIP Robin Williams, 1951-2014. Wherever you are, hope there's laughter, Mozart and Elvis. 



[image via]


Film Screening: Like Father, Like Son

The Scene Club
 will screen Like Father, Like Son on Tuesday, 12th August 2014 at 8pm. Tickets are complimentary, but you must register in advance and collect your ticket at the venue. 

Would you choose your natural child, or the one you believed was your own during six years together? 

Following an unexpected phone call, affluent architect Ryota and his wife, Midori, learn that their six-year-old son, Keita, was switched at the hospital and is not their biological child.

Seeing Midori's devotion to Keita even after the news, and observing the rough yet caring family that has raised his natural son for the last six years, Ryota begins to question his own values on fatherhood as he must choose between 'nature' and 'nurture,' a decision that will change their lives forever. 

Directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu, Like Father, Like Son was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize and a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury. It then went on to screen at numerous international film festivals (including Toronto, San Sebastian, Vancouver, London), winning 18 awards and receiving 38 nominations.

Event details
Date: Tuesday, 12th August 2014
Time: 7.00-7.45pm - Ticket Collection and Networking | 8.00pm – Film screening 
Venue: Knowledge Village Auditorium, Dubai (location map)
Film duration: 120 minutes (Japanese with English subtitles)
Register for your ticket online.    


Happy Eid Al Fitr 2014

© Hind Mezaina

To everyone celebrating Eid Al Fitr today, I wish you Eid Mubarak. Wherever you are, hope you are with your loved ones.

This Ramadan was in the midst of some of the most harrowing events in Jerusalam, Gaza, Iraq and Syria, plus the devastating news of the shooting down of one of Malaysia Airlines' aircraft and the Air Algérie plane crash, along with more sad news from around the world.

Watching and reading about these events and trying to make sense of it all has been an activity many of us have been doing over the past few weeks.   

My friend Masarat Daud shared these words on Facebook yesterday in her Eid message. It expresses how I (and I'm certain many of us) feel and I'd like to share them here with you. 

Grateful for life and its gifts but continuously seeking clarity among stories of human fragility and injustice.

Remembering all those who were lost and the broken people they have left behind.

Thanks Masarat for these words.