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du Social Media Awards 2013


The Culturist won Best Blogger Award in the second du Social Media Awards. List of all the winners.

Official Honoree of the 2012 Webby Awards

The Culturist was selected as an Official Honoree of the 16th Annual Webby Awards in the Blog - Cultural category. List of all the honorees.

The 2011 Bloggies

The Culturist won Best Asian Weblog in this year's Bloggies. Thanks to everyone that voted. List of all the winners.


For the Love of Music Music Series

For the Love of Music is a new music concert series brought to us by Dubai based Co-Sign, an independent label and entertainment agency and Kilma Studios.

The first series is happening on Wednesday, 12th October at The Music Room in Dubai.

Click to read more ...


Music Painting

Here's a lovely video for a Friday afternoon. It's the music video for Matteo Negrin's Lacrime di Giulietta. The animated video uses "music painting" to tell the story of the song. The painting is done by Alice Ninni.

Click to read more ...


RIP Steve Jobs

Sad news about Steve Jobs.

Hearing the news made me remember when I first laid my eyes on a Mac which was in the mid 1980s. It was at my friend's house and as I was admiring it, I remember my friend telling me how the Mac is such an easy computer to use, that anyone can use it. For some reason, that description always stayed with me and in any Apple vs Microsoft debates, I've  always sided with Apple.

Click to read more ...


Film Screening - Budrus


Budrus is an award-winning documentary by Julia Bacha. It premiered in Dubai in 2009 at the Dubai International Film Festival. It's back again in Dubai, this time, it will be screened at Traffic on 5th October. 

Click to read more ...


London Surf / Film Festival 2011

The London Surf / Film Festival is London's first film festival dedicated to surf culture. It will run from 13th-15th October at Riverside Studios and will "celebrate the cream of contemporary surf culture showcasing international surfing's hottest releases, award winning documentaries, independent features and UK Premieres alongside the best short film productions from Britain and Ireland's leading surf filmmakers"

Click to read more ...


Trailer Tuesday - Sound it Out


Sound it Out is a documentary about the last surviving vinyl record shop in Teesside, North East England. It stars "Tom, Kelly, David, Daniel, 50,000 records and the good people of Teesside".  

My favourite quote from this trailer, "It's all about memoreis. Records hold memories." I really can't wait to watch this film.

To everyone that loves (or misses) spending hours in a record store browsing and listening to music, this one is for you.

A cultural haven in one of the most deprived areas in the UK, Sound it Out documents a place that is thriving against the odds and the local community that keeps it alive. Directed by Jeanie Finlay who grew up three miles from the shop.

A distinctive, funny and intimate film about men, the North and the irreplaceable role music plays in our lives.

High Fidelity with a Northern Accent.


American Documentary Showcase

Scene from The Lottery

Documentary fans rejoice. The Dubai International Film Festival is partnering with the American Mission to the UAE to present eight documentaries from the American Documentary Showcase to audiences in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah. The selected films explore diverse topics from civil rights, the loss of native cultures and the difficulties experienced by immigrants, to slam poetry, wildlife and education.

The eight films will screen at Grand Cinemas (Abu Dhabi Mall) in Abu Dhabi on 30th September and 1st October and in  Dubai’s VOX Cinemas (Mall of the Emirates) from 6th-8th October. During the week, filmmakers from the showcase will also visit universities in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai to conduct workshops.

Here's the full line up of documentaries. The screening schedule is added at the end of this post.


A Village Called Versailles

A Village Called Versailles is a full-length documentary about Versailles, a community in eastern New Orleans first settled by Vietnamese refugees. After Hurricane Katrina, Versailles residents have impressively risen to the challenges by returning and rebuilding before most neighborhoods in New Orleans, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill just two miles away. A Village Called Versailles will recount the empowering story of how this group of people, who has already suffered so much in their lifetime, turns a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.


Corner Plot

Amid the tangle of commuter traffic, shopping malls and office buildings that define life inside the beltway rests a one-acre piece of farmland under the care of 89-year-old Charlie Koiner.  With the help of his only daughter, Charlie continues to work his land, share his produce, and enjoy the farm life he’s always known. Corner Plot explores one man’s steadfast authenticity in a changing world.


Freedom Riders 

In 1961, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated band of college students—many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university—decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.


Louder than a Bomb  

Louder Than a Bomb tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare to compete in the world's largest youth slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the turbulent lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. Louder Than a Bomb is not about "high school poetry" as we often think of it. It's about language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance. While the topics they tackle are often deeply personal, what they put into their poems—and what they get out of them—is universal: the defining work of finding one's voice.


No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos

They took Hollywood by storm—escaping the brutal Soviet oppression of the Hungarian Revolution and rising to fame with classic films like Easy Rider, Deliverance, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Deer Hunter. Cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond pioneered the "American New Wave," defining innovative ways to tell stories. This is an intimate portrait of the 50-year journey of two giants of modern image making and their deep bond of brotherhood that transcended every imaginable boundary.


One Lucky Elephant

What happens to a circus elephant when its time to retire? After 16 years in the spotlight, Flora, an African elephant living in St. Louis, must find a new home, and David, the circus producer who has cared for her all these years, must say goodbye. The road to Floras retirement, however, is a difficult and emotional one as the bond between man and elephant is tested in unexpected ways. Ten years in the making, this touching, thought-provoking film deftly investigates the problems and mysteries posed by keeping wild animals in captivity while never losing sight of the delicate love story at its heart.


The Lottery

In a country where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee failing schools every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.

Uncovering a ferocious debate surrounding the education reform movement, interviews with politicians and educators explain not only the crisis in public education, but also why it is fixable. A call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children, The Lottery makes the case that any child can succeed.


We Still Live Here

We Still Live Here tells a remarkable story of cultural revival by the Wampanoag of Southeastern Massachusetts. Their ancestors ensured the survival of the first English settlers in America, and lived to regret it. Now they are bringing their language home again.

The story begins in 1994 when Jessie Little Doe, an intrepid, thirty-something Wampanoag social worker, began having recurring dreams: familiar-looking people from another time addressing her in an incomprehensible language. Later, she realized they were speaking Wampanoag, a language no one had used for more than a century. These events sent her and members of the Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanaog communities on an odyssey that would uncover hundreds of documents written in their language, lead Jessie to a Masters in Linguistics at MIT, and result in something that had never been done before – bringing a language alive again in an American Indian community after many generations with no Native speakers.



Screening schedule (all screenings are free of charge)

Abu Dhabi - Grand Cinemas, Abu Dhabi Mall
Friday, 30th September
2.30pm We Still Live Here
4.00pm One Lucky Elephant
7.00pm Louder Than A Bomb
9.30pm Freedom Riders

Saturday, 1st October
4.00pm A Village Called Versailles + Corner Plot
7.00pm The Lottery
9.30om No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos

Dubai - VOX Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates
Thursday, 6th October
7.30pm Louder Than A Bomb (invitation only screening)
10.00pm The Lottery

Friday, 7th October
4.00pm One Lucky Elephant
7.00pm Louder Than A Bomb
9.30pm We Still Live Here

Saturday, 8th October
4.00pm A Village Called Versailles + Corner Plot
7.00pm Freedom Riders
9.30pm No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos


Music Monday - SBTRKT

© Thomas Cooksey (Mask Design: Hidden Place)

Pharoahs is a super smooth dance track featuring Roses Gabor track brought to us by Aaron Jerome, the masked man behind SBTRKT




Live the language by Gustav Johansson

Live the language
is a series of commercials for EF International Language Center. Directed by Gustav Johansson with typography by Albin Holmqvist - apart from making me want to travel and learn a new language, these videos make me want me to step outside and hug everyone. They are joyful, full of life and showcase the individualistic characters of each city. 

Dear Gustav, Albin, EFILC - please make a Dubai version, I can help show you around. 









Classified by Ali F. Mostafa 

is a new web series exclusive to directed by Ali F Mostafa that will premiere online on 28th September and will run till 26th October. 

The events in this five episode action drama is centered around a phone call from an anonymous person that leads to a chain of dangerous events. 

Webisodes aren't a common format in this region. The only other web series from this region that I am aware of is Shankaboot which won an International Digital Emmy® Award earlier this year. (Shankaboot is the world’s first Arabic web-series that takes us into the heart of Beirut street life through the eyes of Suleiman, a 15 year old delivery boy).

I'm very interested to see the reactions to Classified (Ali F. Mostafa's last project was the feature film City of Life). Here's the trailer to Classified and you can visit to see the countdown leading to the premiere of the show.