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Tea with Culture

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


Film Screening - Le Sac de Farine (Bag of Flour) 

The Scene Club is a monthly film club that highlights the best of international independent cinema. They've been screening a very impressive line up of films, which sadly I've been missing, but I hope to go to their next one.

On Wednesday Tuesday, 6th August, The Scene Club will show Le Sac de Farine (Bag of Flour) by Kadija Leclere, who will also be present for a Q&A session after the film. The screening will take place in the Knowledge Village Auditorium.

Tickets are complimentary, but you must register in advance and collect your ticket at the venue.

The film is based on a true story.

Alsemberg (Belgium), December 1975. Sarah, 8 years old, lives in a Catholic orphanage. One day, her biological father, whom she has never met, comes to take her for a weekend in Paris. But it is in Morocco that Sarah wakes up, in a little town lost in the middle of the Atlas.

Very soon, her father leaves, abandoning her without any explanation. She then slips into the life of a little Moroccan girl where the only schooling she is offered is that of knitting.

Nine years later, we find Sarah, 17 years old, a teenager like all the others. At least, almost. We are in 1984, in the middle of a hunger revolt (The Revolt of ‘Awbach’). Sarah’s father has never sent the money he had said he would, and for the family where she is staying, each mouth to feed accounts for more and more. Sarah will have to find a way to earn her board.

And then, there’s Nari, that beautiful politically engaged student. But then, there is also her wish of leaving, to going back to the Belgium of her childhood, the school, the books and a life that Sarah imagines free.


Event details
Date: Wednesday Tuesday, 6th August
Time: Doors open at 8.00pm for ticket collection and networking. Film screening at 9.00pm followed by Q&A with Kadija Leclere. Register for your ticket online.
Knowledge Village Auditorium, Dubai (location map)


William Trubridge - Freediver by Kitty Bolhoefer and Fridolin Schoepper

William Trubridge - Freediver
is a beautiful short film produced and directed by Kitty Bolhoefer and Fridolin Schoepper for The Avant Garde Diaries


It's so serene to watch and you can't help but marvel at what it takes to become a freediver. 

The freefall is one of the most beautiful parts of the dive because it feels like you are getting pulled deeper, and that sensation can be a little unnerving at first because suddenly you are sinking quite fast. But once you get used to it and comfortable with it, then it can become a very peaceful and beautiful part of the dive. William Trubridge

[hat tip @Ozbatur]


Twin Peaks: All the pie and coffee by Bryan Menegus


If you are a Twin Peaks fan like me, you are going to love this video edited by Bryan Menegu. It shows every mention of pie and coffee, and every sip of coffee from the two seasons of Twin Peaks.

Watching it makes me want to have a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. Now.


[via Slackstory]


Movies in movies: A montage by Clara Darko and Brutzelpretzel

Movies in movies: A montage by Clara Darko and Brutzelpretzel is a wonderful "celebration of cinema within cinema".

There are 139 clips from 93 films in this video. Sit back and enjoy. I ♥ the movies. 



The complete list of movies featured in this clip can be found here.




[hat tip ]


The Photo Man by Ben Kitnick


The Photo Man by Ben Kitnick is a lovely short film about Mark Kologi who has collected and sold millions of forgotten personal photos of complete strangers. He can be found selling these photos at the Melrose Trading Post in Los Angeles every Sunday (via LA Weekly).

I can't imagine what it's like going through thousands of photos like Mark does - what does it feel like to have so many people's memories in his possession. But he also finds satisfaction in passing on these photos to other people.

When selling the photos my satisfaction comes from when I see that a person who has creative instincts that may have been a little crushed, gets some kind of reignition or charge....That's really why I do it.  Mark Kologi


I love going through found photos when I visit flea markets during my travels. I even have a small collection which I hope to do something with, maybe I will try by sharing some here on the blog.

In the meantime, please watch The Photo Man, it's just under 7 minutes long.  



[hat tip @gulfphotoplus]


The Unseen Sea and Adrift by Simon Christen


Check out these two timelapse videos by Simon Christen, both shot in San Francisco and capture the heavy fog. It's amazing to see how it engulfs the city, like a floating flood of fog.

The Unseen Sea was filmed a couple of years ago and Adrift was filmed recently and has been viewed over a  million time in one month.

Sit back and enjoy.

The Unseen Sea

A collection of time lapses I took around the San Francisco Bay Area roughly shot over the period of one year.




It has been almost 3 years since I released "The Unseen Sea" and I'm excited and proud to share with you my latest project "Adrift".

"Adrift" is a love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area. I chased it for over two years to capture the magical interaction between the soft mist, the ridges of the California coast and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. This is where “Adrift” was born.


Crowdfunding for Mashrou' Leila's new album Raasuk

Mashrou' Leila is a Beirut-based indie band, their music is a blend of Eastern and Western influences and they sing in Arabic. I saw them live for the first time in Dubai two years ago at The Music Room and been a fan ever since. Their songs are poetic and intelligent, and they throw some good shows.

They've been touring for the past few years and receiving great reviews for their music and concerts. With two albums up their sleeves, you can listen to/purchase their first two albums here, Mashrou' Leila recently recorded their 3rd album Raasuk in Montreal. In their own words,

The album is about everything: love, lust, mourning, social control, Lebanese politics, the Arab spring, and most importantly, dancing. We challenged ourselves musically and lyrically to try to get out of our genre.

Mashrou' Leila would now like to release their new album, but like all struggling indie bands, they don't have financial support. They've turned to Zoomaal, the first crowd-funding platform looking to help independent talent in the Arab world, and are asking fans to support them to release Raasuk.

Although the worsening political situation in the Middle East makes it increasingly difficult to get our stuff published, we really want to get this album out.

If for nothing else, we want to release the album to prove to ourselves and everyone around us, that at least part of all the changes in the region are in the name of free speech, be that in a protest, a censored newspaper article, or a concert that the government won’t support.


They need to raise at least USD 66,000, to be able to design beautiful album art, print CDs and posters, make quality videos and play concerts with quality sound systems. This region really lacks financial support when it comes to anything that is independent and unique - so I really, really, really hope Mashrou' Leila will be able to raise funds for this.

These words really sum up the sorry state of music in the Arab world and hope it will encourage you to fund this project. 

Help us prove that the music industry hasn’t been catering to our people’s needs. Help us demand that the music industry stop remanufacturing the same pop-stars with different names.
Help us demand better art.
Help us demand diverse representation in our cultural environment.
Help us force the industry to listen to the people.
Help us not get choreographed.
Help us occupy Arab-Pop.

Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your lovers. Tell the fanatics, the moderates, and the liberals. And when you do, make sure you also tell them change is coming, and it doesn’t have implants.


Watch this clip which includes the band, their fans (some are renowned personalities in Beirut) and find out why it is so important to help Mashrou' Leila release their new album.  After that, visit Zoomaal and donate as whatever you can. The campaign ends on 13th August 2013.


Let's #OccupyArabPop and demand better. We deserve it. This region needs it.




Pepsi & Lay's Ramadan 2013 - The Film


For this year's Ramadan, Pepsi and Lays have put together a commercial that celebrates the gathering of friends and family during Ramadan, breaking the fast together around a dining table full of delicious meals, followed by eating delicious desserts, usually in front of TV.

The tagline is "Let's complete our gathering", "يلا نكمل جمعتنا" (Yalla nkamel jam'etna) - which I guess is saying if you buy Pepsi and Lays, your Ramadan gathering will be complete.

The commercial also touches upon an aspect that I'm not sure many young people will get or appreciate today. It feautures Ramadan icons from the 1970s/80s/90s, Nelly, Samir Ghanem's Fatouta, Fouad El Mohandes' Amo Fouad (Uncle Fouad) and Boogie and Tamtam. These icons will always create an emotional reaction and move anyone that grew up watching them on TV during Ramadan. I actually teared up watching it because it brought back a lot of good memories and I heard many had a very similar reaction to it.


Pepsi & Lay's have come together to re-ignite the spirit of Ramadan by bringing together the most famous Ramadan icons: Nelly, Fatouta, Fouad El Mohandes and Boogie & Tamtam. Let's complete our gathering, يلا نكمل جمعتنا (yalla nkamel jam'etna).



The campaign invites viewers to film and share their Ramadan moments which will be part of a "Pepsi movie". I will be on the lookout for this, but I really hope the movie won't be full of clips of people holding Pepsi cans and eating chips.

I am not a Pepsi drinker and I know I won't be buying any because of this commercial, but I'm glad they've put together a commercial which touched us on an emotional level and captured an insight to Ramadan that's unique to this region.


Booza with The Carton and thejamjar


The Carton magazine is a quarterly publication that tells the story of Middle Eastern culture through its food. Their latest (and sixth) issue will focus on Booza (ice cream in Arabic). This reminds me of a recent issue of  Kinfolk magazine about ice cream, a delicious looking which I have yet to finish reading. I hope The Carton will be another delicious looking magazine that I can add to my collection.

To celebrate their latest issue and all things ice cream, The Carton will host an event at thejamjar that will include the screening of
An Ice Cream Show by Rick Sebak which takes a look at the industry and science of ice cream, an opportunity to taste some homemade booza and copies of the latest issue of the magazine. 

Additionally, visitors are invited to round off the evening with a booza inspired painting, thejamjar is offering 20x20cm canvases at a discounted price for visitors to paint their ideal ice cream.

This sounds like a perfect evening to help cope with the very hot summer we have in Dubai.

I can't find a trailer for An Ice Cream Show, but here's a small part from the documentary, to give you a taste of what to expect.



AN ICE CREAM SHOW features a lot of ice cream people (from makers and eaters to collectors) and ice cream places (from a giant cone-shaped building in Florida to a place that sells only tea-flavored ice creams in San Francisco). Along the tour of shops up and down the East and West Coasts, a lot of interesting questions pop up: What was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' favorite flavor on Cape Cod? What American university has offered a course on ice cream production since 1892? And where would Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's go to get ice cream if he couldn't have his own? Each segment reveals a fun story about the cold treat.

Using his trademark "scrapbook documentary" style, Rick presents a tasty mix of slightly wacky historical facts with current trends and quirky observations of America's infatuation with the creamy delight. He scoops up some old home movies and commercials, sprinkles a couple archive snapshots here and there, and tops it off with fresh, new footage.



Event details
Date: Monday, 22nd July 2013, 8.00pm-11.00pm
Venue: thejamjar, RKM Properties, St. 17a, Comm 368, Al Quoz 3 (location map)
Event on Facebook. Free entry.


Vimto Song by Alaa Wardi


You know it's Ramadan when you start seeing Vimto ads on TV. Vimto is such a popular drink in the Gulf region during Ramadan - many believe it's a regional drink and not aware it originated in the UK more than 100 years ago.

Personally, I'm not a Vimto fan, but I'm quite fascinated by how popular it is only during Ramadan.

Alaa Wardi (I featured him on the blog a couple of years ago) recently recorded a Vimto tune using only Vimto bottles based on this Vimto commercial.

Check it out.