Tea with Culture

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


Cinema at The Space - September 2015

This September, Cinema at The Space in Abu Dhabi will be celebrate the Venice International Film Festival and 100 Years of Glorious Technicolor with special screenings. 

The screenings will take place at The Space in Abu Dhabi (twofour54 Park Rotana Building), and free to attend, but you must RSVP in advance.

Here's the line up: 


Wednesday, 2nd September at 7:30pm

Thursday, 3rd September at 7:30pm  



Online screenings of films selected for the 72nd Venice International Film Festival

Interruption, Yorgos Zoi 

The 72nd edition of the Venice International Film Festival is on from 2nd till 12th September, and just like last yearthere's a list of films that will be screened online (EUR 4 per film) for a limited period for the first 400 people who buy a ticket. 

There are 14 films in total that are scheduled to screen between 3rd and 16th September 2015. Full details and schedule can be found here

I will book my tickets soon and enjoy another year of a mini Venice International Film Festival at home. Here are my top 10 from this year's selection: 


Boi Neon (Neon Bull) 
Director: Gabriel Mascaro  | Brazilian-Portuguese (with English subtitles) | 101 min  

Playing from 3rd-8th September 2015 

Iremar works at the Vaquejadas, a rodeo in the Northeast of Brazil, where two men on horseback try bring down a bull by grabbing its tail. It’s dusty and back-breaking work, but Iremar is a natural ‘Vaqueiro’ feeding, prepping and taking care of the bulls. Home is the truck used to transport the animals from show to show which he shares with his co-workers: Galega, an exotic dancer, truck driver and mother to her spirited and cheeky daughter Cacá, and Zé, his rotund compadre in the bull pen.

Together they form a makeshift but close-knit family. But Brazil and the Northeast are changing and the region's booming clothing industry has stirred new ambitions in Iremar. Swinging in his hammock in the back of the truck, his head is filled with dreams of pattern cutting, sequins and exquisite fabrics as he mentally assembles his latest sexy fashion designs.  

Book here: 


Italian Gangsters 
Director: Renato De Maria | Italian (with English subtitles) 

Playing from 3rd-8th September 2015 

An original, spectacular journey through the most sensational exploits of the local underworld. Thirty years of violent stories sanctioned by news and films. A gallery of faces, testimonies and period footage.

A many-voiced portrayal following the trail of the main exponents of Italian crime that becomes a tumultuous tale of the social transformations running throughout the history of our country. 

Book here: 

The Fits 
Director: Anna Rose Holmer | 71 min | English 

Playing from 4th-9th September 2015

Toni, a tomboyish boxer, lands a spot on an after-school drill team in the West End community of Cincinnati. She eagerly absorbs routines, masters drills, and even pierces her own ears to fit in. It’s the joy of her first friendships and her discovery of dance. Shortly after Toni joins the team, most of the girls on the team suffer from episodes of fainting, swooning, and shaking in a seemingly uncontrollable catharsis.

Nobody can explain the mysterious outbreak. These fits soon transform into a rite of passage as the trauma draws the other girls closer together. Caught between her need for control and her desire for acceptance, Toni must decide how far she will go to embody her new ideals.

Book here:   


Director: Kohki Hasei | 75 min | Filipino (with English subtitles)  

Playing from 5th-10th September 2015

11-years-old Blanka survives alone in Manila begging and stealing from tourists. One day, an absurd idea pops up: if she could buy a mother, she could have a good life. But she has to make countless efforts in order to collect enough money.

An opportunity arises when she meets Peter, a 55 years old blind street musician, who teaches Blanka how to sing, a skill out of which she can make money. However, concerned about Blanka’s future, Peter decides to take Blanka to an orphanage. When she finds out, she runs away and the nightmare starts again. 

Book here: 

Director: Pema Tseden | 123 min | Chinese, Tibetan (with English subtitles) 

Playing from 5th-10th September 2015

Tharlo is an orphan. Now grown up, he makes a living as a sheep herder in the village. He has grown a ponytail, so people simply call him Ponytail, since nobody remembers his real name anyway. Tharlo has a remarkable memory. He remembers so many things, except his own name. He is now in his forties, and he has yet to have his first woman.

Now Tharlo goes to town to take a photo for his identity card. He meets a girl in the barber’s shop who changes the course of his life. He embarks on the journey to find his true self. He sells all his sheeps and those entrusted by other villagers to him for care, and decides to use the money to go out into the world with the girl, only to find himself being deceived and cheated by her.

Ironically, in his journey of self-discovery, Tharlo has lost his sense of self. As he witnesses in the mirror his ponytail being cut off and leaving him bald, he can no longer see himself as a man with a history that he recognizes. 

Book here: 


Chaharshanbeh, 19 Ordibehesht (Wednesday, May 9)
Director: Vah7d Jalilvand | 102 min | Farsi (with English subtitles) 

Playing from 7th-12th September 2015

A man named Jalal publishes an unusual advertisement in one of Tehran’s morning papers to donate $10,000 to a needy person. The news gathers a large group of people. At the end of the day, he receives many application forms, and he eventually decides to choose one by chance.

Those who have applied insist that what's been advertised is the only solution to their problem. The police take charge of the situation by calming the people and having them dispersed. However, two women do not give up: Setareh, a 19-year-old pregnant woman, and Leila, Jalal’s ex-fiancée…

Book here: 


Madame Courage 
Director: Merzak Allouache |  90 min | Arabic (with French, English, Italian subtitles) 

Playing from 7th-12th September 2015

Omar, an unstable and lonely teenager, lives in a slum in the suburbs of Mostaganem, Algeria. He is addicted to a famous psychotropic, nicknamed “Madame Courage”: Artane tablets, very popular among young Algerians, for their euphoric effect of invincibility. Omar is an expert thief.

One morning, he goes downtown to commit his usual crimes. His first prey is a young girl called Selma, walking with her friends, prominently wearing a gold necklace. As he commits his larceny, their eyes meet.

Book here:  


Director: Yorgos Zois | 109 min | Greek (with English, Italian subtitles)

Playing from 8th-13th September 2015

A post-modern theater adaptation of a classic Greek tragedy takes place in a central theater of Athens. Like every night, the audience take their seats and the play begins. Suddenly, the lights on stage go out. A group of young people, dressed in black and carrying guns, come up on stage.

They apologize for the interruption and invite people from the audience to participate on stage. The play resumes with a main difference; life imitates art and not the opposite.

Book here: 


Mate-me por favor   
Director: Anita Rocha da Silveira | 101 min Brazilian-Portuguese (with English subtitles)

Playing from 9th-14th September 2015

Barra da Tijuca, West Side Zone of Rio de Janeiro. A wave of murderers plague the area. What starts off as a morbid curiosity for the local youth slowly begins to spoil away at their lives. Among them is Bia, a 15-year-old girl. After an encounter with death, she will do anything to make sure she's alive.

Book here: 


Free in Deed
Director: Jake Mahaffy | 98 min | English

Playing from 11th to 16th September 2015


Set in the distinctive world of storefront churches, and based on actual events, Free in Deed depicts one man’s attempts to perform a miracle. When a single mother brings her young boy to church for healing, this lonely pentecostal minister is forced to confront the seemingly incurable illness of the child… and his own demons as well. The more he prays, the more things seem to spiral out of his control.


Book here:  


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 

UPDATE: Additional performace on Friday, 4th September at 5pm (announced on 30th August)

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.