Tea with Culture

Podcast featuring discussions and interviews about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Entries in Mall of the Emirates (3)


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


Red Bull Tum Tum Pa in Dubai

Red Bull Tum Tum Pa
is a global freestyle drumming competition for students. Teams of up to four students are allowed to use only commercial teaching and office supplies for their creative percussion performance. Possible instruments may include: pens, pencils, books, bags, scissors, erasers or Red Bull cans.

The past couple of weeks saw the qualifier rounds across the UAE and the final competition is happening this Thursday, 31st March between 6pm-8pm at the Virgin Megastore in Mall of the Emirates.

The winning team will be sent to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to compete in the Red Bull Tum Tum Pa World Finals. 

Go and show some support. Click, clack, boom!


MinD - Made in Dubai 2011

The 2nd edition of the MinD (Made in Dubai) exhibition opens today at DUCTAC (Dubai Community Theatre and Art Centre) and will run till Sunday, 20th March 2011. I took part in the first MinD exhibition last year and I'm honored and happy to be selected for this year's edition. It also includes my brother, Khalid Mezaina and artists that live, work and produce art in Dubai.  

Curated by Ebtisam Abdulaziz, the theme for this year's exhibition is City's Dialogue and includes work exploring themes of city life, environmental degradation and the impersonality of modern lifestyles.
List of artists:
Alia Lootah | Amna Al Madani | Barbara McGivern | Basem Alsayer | Carolin Kropff | Hind Mezaina | Huda Saeed Saif | Julia Townsend | Khalid Al Banna | Khalid Mezaina | Maisoon Al Saleh | Majida Nasreddin | Maryam Al Qassimi | Muna Abdul Qader Al Ali | Nasir Nasrallah | Paolomaria | Raymond Prucher | Salem Al Mansoori | Sarah Lahti | Zeinab Al Hashemi 

The exhibition will feature artworks in a range of media including video, installation, painting, graphic art, sculpture, photography and performance art. The works will explore contemporary reality through site-specific installation.

Visitors will receive a map of the centre, which they will use to explore and find the artworks in unconventional locations throughout both the buildings in the DUCTAC complex (on level 2 of Mall of the Emirates).

Here's a selection of the artwork. 

© Salem Al Mansoori - Pattern System (video)

© Alia Lootah - Anonymous (photography)

© Zeinab Al Hashemi - Marked Down (scanography)

© Khalid Mezaina - Vibrant Future (digital screen print)

© Hind Mezaina - The Shopping Cart Series (photography)


Event details:
Date: 10th March, 7-10pm Opening. Exhibition will run till 20th March 2011.
Venue: DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates