Freelance writer and film journalist based in the UK and the UAE. Co-creator and editor of Vamp Cat Magazine @vampcatmag
Before reforms in January 2018, getting caught with illegal drugs in Iran—whether 30 grams or 50 kilos— carried the death penalty. Even then, Iran has one of the world’s highest drug addiction rates. As the title of director Saeed Roustaee’s Just 6.5 suggests, there are roughly 6.5 million addicts in the country. Roustaee’s brutal action-thriller exposes the shocking truth of Iran’s deepening drug problem, and delivers a searing look into a side of Iran seldom seen in Middle Eastern cinema.
After Un Fils (A Son) screened at the 19th Brussels Mediterranean Film Festival in December 2019, director/writer Mehdi M. Barsaoui stated that he tried to describe “the cultural impact that religion can have on our daily life and on the situation of women.” Barsaoui was determined to “make a film about the emancipation of women and men,” as well as discuss important issues within modern Arab society.
Leonardo DiCaprio — now that is a movie star name. You say that name and everyone including their grandmother knows who he is. Everyone has their connotations about him; their opinions, their favourite performance and their favourite film, and most millennials likely had a 90s Leo poster on their bedroom wall growing up.
“Is this a women’s rights thing?” skeptical onlookers ask a young Saudi doctor who’s announced she’s running for local council in The Perfect Candidate, which recently screened at the London Film Festival. It’s a rather apt question to raise in director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s fourth feature film—and her second made in Saudi Arabia—given the Kingdom’s recent breakthroughs for women’s rights.
In 2001, Saint John Paul II made history as he entered the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, and now, almost twenty years later, Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, visited the United Arab Emirates for the first time ever in early February 2019. His visit signified not only a historic gathering amongst cultures but, ultimately, a validation of the Islamic faith by the Catholic Church.
Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson first starred together in 1981 in the political drama Reds, directed by Warren Beatty. Twenty-two years later, the two reunited for a very different kind of film, Something’s Gotta Give, by rom-com virtuoso, writer-director Nancy Meyers.
Blockbuster season and summer have both come to an end but, don’t fret, because it’s festival time. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has begun and the selection this year is incredible. While films like Joker, Knives Out and Jojo Rabbit are garnering major awards buzz and coverage, there’s a wonderful selection of independent and international releases just waiting to be discovered.
In his feature film debut 1982, director/writer Oualid Mouaness tells the story of an 11 year-old named Wissam who, after sending anonymous love notes, resolves to tell his classmate Joanna that he is in love with her. The narrative occurs at a school on the outskirts of Beirut during its final exam day—and right as the 1982 Lebanon War begins. As conflict escalates in the distance, teachers desperately try to mask their fears; however, the situation begins to crumble as the day progresses.
Lorna Codrai wins this week’s Just Back travel writing competition and £250 for her account off a hazy night out in New Orleans’ most famous quarter.
It is 1pm and I still haven’t left my hotel room. Lying half-dressed on the bed with an ice pack on my forehead was not what I had in mind for the day before my birthday.
Sequins, written by Amy Clarke and directed by Michael Beddoes, tells the story of 17-year-old Paul Bigsby (Robbie Gaskell), an aspiring drag queen, and his coming-of-age journey into realisation and self-discovery. Set in 1997 Blackpool, Sequins is a fresh, raw and honest portrayal of a teen struggling with his identity and sexuality.
Yad Deen, the director, writer and producer of Carga, talks to us about the inspiration behind his latest short film and his experience transitioning from documentaries to fiction. Carga follows couple, Marta and Juan, two young journalists to an abandoned cigarette factory to uncover its secrets. Deen explains, “we hit a bit of a niche here, making a Spanish thriller in Iraq — it's intriguing.” It certainly is but more so due to the film’s location.
Carga, a Spanish thriller set in Iraq, follows couple Marta and Juan (Tania Watson and Agustín Mateo) to an abandoned cigarette factory to uncover its secrets. It’s a simple yet ominous setup, and setting. With the couple venturing into the great unknown, director and co-writer, Yad Deen, does a marvellous job of building tension in just 19 minutes.
Making his TV debut with The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, French film director Jean-Jacques Annaud adapts Joël Dicker’s popular novel of the same name for this twisty, mystery 10-episode drama series.
Buried at the bottom of many a chest of drawers or stuffed into the smallest crevasse of too many wardrobes, lay an item of clothing that is as aged as its owner or as worn as cheap socks. We all have one; that one item of clothing that we refuse to part with. Nostalgia, laziness or general forgetfulness are, typically, the main culprits but nostalgia always seems to reign supreme. This item, whatever it may be, either never sees the light of day or it’s granted the odd, albeit rare, opportunity to stretch its legs. I have such an item.
Holy comeback, Batman: Brendan Fraser is back, and I mean really back. Once a major movie star in the ‘90s, Fraser’s career took a drastic nosedive after his third outing as Rick O’Connell in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). Handsome, funny, incredibly charming and likeable, Fraser looked a shadow of his former self in recent years as he struggled to resurrect his once bright career. This, however, has all changed thanks to the miniseries Trust (2018).