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Actress Naomi Watts poses for photographers on the red carpet for the screening of ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ at the 67th International Film Festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 16. (AP)
Kuwait’s ‘Falafel Cart’ picked for Cannes Syrian woman’s siege of Homs film gets standing ovation

CANNES, May 17, (Agencies): Kuwaiti film ‘Falafel Cart’, directed by Abdullah Al-Wazzan, was selected for the 2014 Cannes International Film Festival’s short film corner competition.
In an exclusive statement to KUNA, Al-Wazzan said he was proud to present Kuwait in the renowned film festival, adding that the selection of his film reflected Kuwait’s youth ability to produce internationally recognized films.
Falafel Cart is a ten-minute film revolving around an unseen falafel cart owner who regains his passion for cooking after stumbling upon a special flower that holds the essence of his past.
Al-Wazzan affirmed that it was important to support Kuwaiti youth in their ambition to produce films, saying that the Cannes festival was the perfect venue to showcase such talents.
 


A Syrian woman whose horrifying footage of the siege of Homs was turned into a film by an exiled director was on Friday given a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, a few hours after the pair met for the first time.
Documentary maker Wiam Simav Bedirxan, dressed in a long black dress and red shawl, bent forward, put her head in her hands and had to be comforted by director Ossama Mohammed as the Cannes audience applauded her arrival at the start of the film they made together, “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait”.
The meeting marked the close of an extraordinary chapter in each of their lives — in which he escaped Syria with his life but suffered from survivors’ guilt in exile in Paris and she returned to her family in the besieged city of Homs armed with a video camera.
Ossama, who has twice before brought films to Cannes, told AFP he felt he had been given a second chance when Simav contacted him one day out of the blue from Homs asking what he would do in her position.
“Simav saved me, she really saved me, she saved my life. Syria made her remember about Ossama and believe that he could help,” the film-maker, from Lattakia, told AFP in an interview.
“It was a very painful time for me, feeling that I (was) first in Damascus and second Paris, feeling that I’m saved, maybe, but psychologically I was not saved.


Illusion
“I was not sleeping. I (thought) OK, I had an illusion that I was (a) brave defender of truth, of human rights, but I’m defending it from my room in Paris,” he added, speaking in his second language English.
Over the following months, Simav sent more and more footage over the Internet to Ossama who started to construct the film using the images combined with their email exchanges.
In the film, Simav describes how after her return to Homs she finds herself in a flat with “the remains of who I am” and “my old father crying like a cat”.
Each day she goes out to film protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, shootings, bodies. She also obtains footage from defecting soldiers of torture and killings.
One day she films two veiled women being grabbed in the street and dragged away by unidentified armed men.


“Will I die of torture in the basement of a militia leader?” she asks, out of sight of the camera.
Eventually soldiers come to her neighbourhood and shout orders for everyone to leave.
“I bid him (father) farewell (and) on legs made of wind I run. A single look back would have killed me. I saw mum fall and she didn’t get up,” she says.
Others in the film are anonymous to the viewer, although some are known to Simav.
In one scene a group of mostly middle-aged women flee in panic down a country road. “Abdo was burned!” one shouts. “Nobody’s left, there’re mass graves!” another cries. “Damn you Bashar.” A young man carrying a child drops to his knees and jabs his hands at his forehead in disbelief.
The viewer is not told who Abdo was, whether the child was dead or injured or where the women went.
Another scene follows a young boy, aged about five, who takes flowers to his father’s grave. “I brought you the best rose... I miss you,” he says, addressing the grave in a matter of fact way. “Mum look how deep this grave is,” he says later as he wanders nearby.
Cut to another scene and he walks through wasteland and deserted rubble-strewn streets. “Look there’s a flower!” he exclaims.


As he approaches a road junction, he tells Simav, “here there’s a sniper” before reassuring her, “he’s not shooting”.
Ossama said that as more and more images arrived in his inbox from Simav he found himself gripped with suspense.
He realised that she had opened up a “virtual route” via which he could play his role in the uprising and every day he waited, full of anticipation to see what new images she would send him. The Syrian conflict, he said, had been almost unique in terms of the sheer number and the nature of the images captured by ordinary people, rather than professional journalists. “Since the first moment this was a revolution of images... it was Syria screening itself each day,” he said.
Making the film, however, meant difficult choices such as how to choose the “best dead body shot, the most beautiful martyr”.


But he said he steeled himself because he believed the Syrian regime wanted to destroy the story of each individual that opposed them and that his film could give them a voice. The stars of the Turkish film “Winter’s Sleep” are showing their solidarity for those affected by a mining tragedy at home as they promote their film in Cannes. The actors and director held up signs with the hashtag Soma during their photo call Friday for the movie.
Soma is the Turkish city where at least 284 people were killed in a fire in a coal mine, the country’s worst mining accident. There has been an outcry of anger and protests from the public, some of whom blame the government for not taking action to correct alleged safety problems in Turkey’s mines.
“Winter’s Sleep,” by director Nuri Blige Ceylan, is a family drama starring Haluk Bilginer, Demet Akbag and Melisa Sozen. All four held the signs for photographers on Friday.


Also:
CANNES, France: Oscar-nominated Naomi Watts says she’s had enough with female directors constantly being sized up to their male counterparts.
Speaking with The Associated Press, the “Impossible” star said that “female directors and actresses have a different voice, different stories. It’s not helpful to be compared to men.”
Watts, who wore a pink strapless dress and long Bulgari white gold and diamond necklace, was in Cannes on Thursday night to attend Calvin Klein’s “Women in Film” alongside Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o and Rooney Mara.
The underrepresentation of women in directorial roles has been a hot topic at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, with Jane Campion - the first female filmmaker to have ever won the Palme d’Or - sitting as jury president.
“Jane Campion is right to say that there’s an inherent sexism in the film industry. But there’s also a lack of women putting themselves forward,” Watts added.




 

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