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Latest in Culture


Soloist Ousso: Seeing the whole world anew each day

There is an unstoppable force that drives Ousso (Mohamed Lotfy), Egypt’s foremost guitar player. It is not just his love for music, but his belief in people, in young musicians, in the possibility to change and improvement, in the importance of learning and developing one’s skills, and in the great outcome of devotion to what …

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Joharah Baker’s acceptance speech at the Eliav-Sartawi Awards

First of all let me thank Search for Common Ground for this award. I would also like to thank my own organization, MIFTAH for providing me with the platform from which to express my views. I am truly honored to have been chosen for what I feel is my humble contribution to the world of …

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Hungry Chinese collectors dominate Paris auctions

Chinese collectors with cash to burn dominated Paris auctions in December, displaying a ravenous appetite for pieces from the country’s imperial days with a focus as much on investment as nostalgia. Hotel Drouot, one of the French capital’s top auction halls, recorded its top sale of the year on Dec. 14 when an 18th-century Qing …

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Thailand bans film about transgender father

Thailand’s film board has banned a movie about a transgender father struggling to raise two children, a move the director says highlights the conservative side of Thai society despite its freewheeling reputation. The National Film Board ruled earlier this week that the film, "Insects in the Backyard," cannot be shown in Thailand because it contains …

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Bhutto niece tells all in ‘Songs of Blood and Sword’

By Caroline Curran Fatima Bhutto is the self-proclaimed black sheep of Pakistan’s foremost political family. Although little known compared to some of her more famous relatives, Bhutto is making a splash this month with the publication of her book: “Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir.” Niece of current President Asif Zardari and deceased former …

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2010 was a ‘Perfect Gift’ for Canadian Tenors

A year after releasing their first hit album, the Canadian Tenors are delivering "The Perfect Gift," a compilation of traditional and contemporary holiday music. "You have the classics like ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Silent Night,’ but there are songs that are not necessarily Christmas-specific," explained tenor Victor Micallef. "Some great producers worked on that, as …

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Hits, misses and sleepers of 2010

By Hillel Italie/ AP Dead men were big sellers in 2010, from Stieg Larsson and his Millennium trilogy to Mark Twain and the autobiography he wanted withheld until 100 years after his death. Among the living, George W. Bush’s “Decision Points” became a quick million seller and defied expectations for the former president, who left office …

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YEAREND SPECIAL: Cairo art scene embraces new trends

By Mariam Hamdy This year has been a relatively intriguing one for the arts in Cairo. Despite the fact that most of the exhibitions didn’t resonate significantly with viewers or critics, there appears to be new trends in Cairo’s art scene that are worth some attention. New gallery spaces are being introduced and artists of all …

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YEAREND SPECIAL: The best films of 2010 have little chance of wide viewership

By Joseph Fahim The life of a critic is a solitary one, largely spent in front of a big screen with an audience that mostly shares the same tastes, opinions and lifestyle. The dissociation from real life is an accepted upshot of our daily routine. Perhaps that’s why I was somewhat flabbergasted to find myself engaging …

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YEAREND SPECIAL: 2010’s books promise much, offer little

By Sherif Azer and Youssef Faltas/ Literary recession still glooms over book lovers in Egypt. There are no notable sensations to mark 2010, with bestseller lists largely unchanged from last year’s, which in turn wasn’t much different from the one before it. There are, however, few exceptions. The International Prize for Arabic Fiction, known as the …

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YEAREND SPECIAL: The cultural divide widens

By Joseph Fahim Last year, all strata of Egyptian culture witnessed a considerable decline brought about by economic crises, the impact of which was much more grave than originally forecasted. A lack of resources and general reluctance in investing in risky projects forced mainstream culture to slash production and adhere to safe formulas. Indie culture was …

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Coens part ways with Wayne in their ‘True Grit’

By David Germain/ AP If there were a Hollywood Remakes 101 college class, “True Grit” directors Joel and Ethan Coen no doubt would be in violation of a basic lesson: Never remake a film people know and love. John Wayne’s 1969 Western “True Grit” was one of his choice late-career roles, earning him a best-actor Academy …

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China’s Zhang says Bale to star in Nanjing project

By Gillian Wong/ AP Christian Bale will star in Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s new project about 13 young prostitutes who help save compatriots from Japanese troops rampaging Nanjing, the latest film exploring a World War II-era atrocity that stirs nationalism in China. Bale, currently co-starring in the boxing drama “The Fighter,” will portray an American priest …

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Danish camera enters heart of Afghan combat

By Herve Asquin and Bronwen Roberts/ AFP Afghan war film “Armadillo” follows young Danish soldiers deploying against the Taliban for the first time, intimately recording their confrontation with a complicated conflict, the battles, the waiting, the emotions. It is a film that director Janus Metz said “very consciously tried to break with the sort of news …

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Philippines comic cuts film amid Catholic protest

MANILA: Angry Catholics forced the Philippines’ "King of Comedy" to delete scenes of his latest film deemed deeply offensive to the country’s dominant religion, the veteran actor said in a television interview. Dolphy said he did not wish to pick a fight with God as his production outfit voluntarily excised the offending scenes of his …

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Critical notes: Exhibitions flood Cairo art scene

By Mariam Elias Whether by intention or coincidence, several art institutions scheduled the opening of their latest exhibitions on Dec. 13, the night following the opening of the 12th International Cairo Biennale. Thus, these institutions intend to create events that either rival the Biennale, or that piggyback off of the state organized show’s anticipated success. Mahmoud …

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Iraqi cinema makes a comeback at Greek film festival

Iraqi cinema scored a notable first at this month’s Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece, with one film up for an award and a retrospective of the young director Mohamed Al-Daradji. But although Ebrahim Saeedi’s "Mandoo" (Tired) did not win, both he and Daradji showed that independent Iraqi cinema — whose history dates back more …

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Lebanese Civil War drama wins best film at DIFF; Egypt receives best acting prizes

A Lebanese chamber drama set against the backdrop of the Civil War has won best Arabic film on Sunday at the seventh Dubai International Film Festival. George Hachem’s debut feature examines the impact of the war on two Christian families. “Bullet,” which stars “Caramel” director Nadine Labaki, continues its successful streak having won the best …

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The Nabatean: A false literary prophecy

By Sherif Azer and Youssef Faltas “By the one two-faced God and by primordial wisdom, I speak the truth. There is none but Mother and Son. From the two, every mother and son come. An embrace to the mother, longing to her son, and to them together birth and recreation. God Eel begotten from Goddess Laat, …

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‘Pink Panther’ director Blake Edwards dies

Oscar-winning director Blake Edwards, who made the "Pink Panther" movies and the 1961 classic "Breakfast at Tiffany’s," has died at the age of 88, his agent said Thursday. Edwards, who died Wednesday, worked with cinema legends including Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in a career stretching more than half a century. …

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Dig finds statue pieces in pharaonic temple ruins

CAIRO: Archaeologists have found fragments of a statue of an ancient god and a pharaoh in a site that once housed ancient Egypt’s largest funerary temple, the antiquities council said on Thursday. The fragments, a bust of the god Hapi depicted as a baboon and what the council said were the legs of a King …

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Keeping art in the family

The art exhibition to commemorate the second anniversary of Darb 1718 provokes a dialogue on how the definition of what can be classified as art has changed over the years. From video installations and animation to collages, a puppet and even a bar lounge and neon signs, the exhibition titled “Fames: Family Vaudeville,” has it …

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Brazil opens Niemeyer museum as he turns 103

By AFP Legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer marked his 103rd birthday Wednesday with a gift too big to be wrapped with a bow: a museum bearing his name and dedicated to his illustrious career. “My friends have come to see me. How nice,” he told reporters at a reception unveiling the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation in …

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Mixed representation for Egyptian films in Dubai fest

With a staggering eight films participating in the fest’s numerous competitions and section, Egypt has made a triumphant return to Dubai with a solid selection of some of the most hyped movies of this year’s edition. Critical reception of the four major participating films — Mohamed Diab’s “678,” Ahmad Abdalla’s “Microphone,” Hesham Issawi’s “Cairo Exit” …

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Artists meet to discuss their role in promoting human rights

CAIRO: In observance of International Human Rights Day, the US Embassy organized a discussion on Monday between Egyptian artists and US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchange Maura Pally regarding the role visual arts may play in promoting human rights. The artists, most of whom are alumni of US government exchange programs, presented …

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US to send dancers as diplomats on world tours

By AFP The US government said Wednesday it will send US dance companies in 2012 to east and south central Asia as well as to the Middle East and Africa to act as American cultural ambassadors. “Tours are slated to fan out across the globe beginning in January 2012, when members of the selected US …

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Fiennes directorial debut, Wenders 3D pic at Berlin fest

A British drama directed by Ralph Fiennes and a 3D documentary by Wim Wenders on the late German choreographer Pina Bausch will premiere at the Berlin film festival in February, organizers said Wednesday. Fiennes will unveil "Coriolanus," a contemporary reworking of the Shakespeare tragedy about a Roman general who mounts a rebellion against the empire, …

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‘Microphone’ hits the right note in unconventional ode to Alexandria music

By Sarah El Sirgany Three men spell out a curse word in Arabic. The three letters rhyme with the rest of their sharp and furious rap. But these seem to be the exact reasons why they are ruled out by a government employee from participating in a public concert. Saleh (Mohamed Saleh), who heads a government …

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A healthy dose of culture at Bib Alex

A destination for frazzled Cairenes looking for a more relaxed pace accompanied by a fresh sea breeze and great seafood, Alexandria is often overlooked as a destination for art lovers. This is unfortunate, as Alexandria, and in particular it’s famed Bibliotheca Alexandrina, have a lot to offer in the way of cultural enrichment — from …

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Cairo Biennale artists question the contemporary

Modern art reveals a society to itself, laying bare the bones of fleshy discourse. Art never simply is— it asks of us questions we have to search within to answer. Since its inception in 1984, the Cairo Biennale has sought to explore contemporary art, inviting artists this year to shed more light on questions that …

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