Ammon News, Panorama

Women filmmakers have record showing at Berlin Film Festival

[2/19/2019 2:42:10 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The voices of female filmmakers were louder than ever at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, with seven out of the 16 films in the competition section helmed by women, and female directors from all corners of the globe featured prominently. Women directors represented 63 percent of the films presented across the festival’s 15 different sections, making it the biggest representation of women directors in the festival’s 69-year history. In addition, the Berlin Film Festival’s selection committee was overwhelmingly female. There were originally 17 films in competition but one film from China was withdrawn. This year’s festival, also known as the Berlinale, wraps up on Sunday. It has been rich with global women telling female-focused stories, including Michela Occhipinti’s feature debut “Flesh Out,” about the practice of gavage, the forced fattening-up of young girls before their weddings in Western Africa. “We are half, maybe more than half the population,” she said of women. “(We are) feeling something different.” Other female-centered stories included Macedonian director Teona Strugar Mitevska and her feminist satire “God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya;” ‘‘37 Seconds,” a tender story from Japan about sex and disability from Hikari; and Austrian filmmaker Marie Kreutzer’s “The Ground Beneath My Feet,” which looks at a high-performing career woman struggling with a sister with mental illness. There was also the black-and-white lesbian love drama “Elisa and Marcela” from Spanish filmmaker Isobel Coixet. British director Joanna Hogg presented her fourth feature film, “The Souvenir,” which followed a young girl through film school in the 1980s. Part autobiographical, part fiction, “The Souvenir” stars Honor Swinton Byrne as a student filmmaker alongside her mother, Tilda Swinton, who plays her on-screen mom. Hogg says she wants to encourage more women to make films and explains that one of the reasons for making the movie was to show a woman as an artist. Swinton, who has directed documentaries, says for her, the female role models have always been there. “I personally as a filmmaker was always aware of the great comradeship of female filmmakers. And you don’t have to look very far to know how many female filmmakers have always been making films. It just, they don’t necessarily get the column inches” in the press, she said. That wasn’t the case for Danish director Lone Scherfig, who opened this year’s festival with “The Kindness of Strangers.” She says she didn’t have much inspiration from women filmmakers or the female characters she watched on screen growing up in Denmark. “Women were always happy and pretty and I, even as a little girl, would go to the cinema in a starched dress with a bow and dress up in order to go to the cinema to watch those women and wanted to be them,” she recalled. She says for her it was a big jump to making films “instead of just sitting, being, wishing you were Audrey Hepburn.” Sitting pretty is far from the minds of many of today’s women filmmakers, and the characters they create on screen are also challenging gender stereotypes. South African director Jenna Bass fought hard to get her contemporary all-female western “Flatland” made the way she wanted it, and even to be able to describe it as a western. “I know that it breaks a lot of the rules but really the only thing that’s really fundamentally missing that is usually in a Western is macho guys, and I just don’t think that that’s a prerequisite of the genre,” she said. *AP

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Dubai in talks with major coffee houses as it launches state-of-the-art center

[2/19/2019 2:40:32 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) said on Monday it was in talks with more than one major coffee trading house to bring their business to its newly opened coffee center. The Coffee Centre near Dubai’s Jebel Ali port is a temperature-controlled facility offering infrastructure and services for the processing and delivery of coffee, and the only location in the Middle East that offers green bean storage and processing. The center, which officially opened on Monday after a soft opening in November, can accommodate both specialty and bulk coffee, and is seeking “small and medium players” in the coffee market, and also bigger firms, said DMCC’s executive chairman Ahmed bin Sulayem. Rather than being locked into long-term bulk deals with major retailers, coffee traders could use Dubai as a distribution hub for the region – “the advantage (they have in trading) from Dubai is to redistribute these products and get a bigger margin,” he said. The facility will attempt to imitate the success of DMCC’s Tea Centre; Dubai now imports tea from around 13 origins, and estimates about 60 percent of the world’s tea re-exports go through the emirate. “There are pretty much six big traders that control around 45 percent of global imports and we are talking to maybe one or more of them,” said Vaughn Marles, product development manager at DMCC. “We would need to get their buy in for this place to be a volume play,” he said. The Coffee Centre can handle up to 20 million kilograms annually of coffee, equivalent to $100 million, said Sanjeev Dutta, executive director for commodities at DMCC. The “bulk” of the coffee that has already gone through the center since its soft opening has been from South America, as well as East Africa, but it is also well-positioned for Asian business, Marles said. *Reuters

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Met Museum says it’s returning stolen coffin to Egypt

[2/17/2019 2:22:47 PM]

AMMONNEWS - New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art says it’s returning a prized artifact to Egypt after learning it was stolen from the country in 2011. The Met said Friday that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office found evidence that the museum was given a false ownership history for the gilded Coffin of Nedjemankh. The Met bought the piece from a Paris art dealer in 2017 and displayed it until this week. Nedjemankh was a high-ranking first century BC priest. Investigators say the Met was given fraudulent documents, including a forged 1971 Egyptian export license. Met president Daniel Weiss apologized to Egypt. He said the museum was a fraud victim and unwitting participant in the illegal trade of antiquities. The Met says it’s cooperating with the DA’s investigation and revising its acquisitions process. *AP

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India’s newly launched fast train hits cattle hurdle

[2/17/2019 2:18:46 PM]

AMMONNEWS - India’s first semi-high speed train broke down on Saturday after colliding with a cow on the tracks, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new passenger service. The Vande Bharat Express, touted as India’s fastest train and built under the Modi government’s flagship “Make in India” program, made its first journey on Friday from New Delhi to the Hindu holy city of Varanasi. But on its return to the capital the next day a collision with a cow disrupted electricity supply to four carriages and damaged the brake system, according to Indian Railways. “The train later experienced technical issues and was stranded on the way to Delhi,” Indian Railways spokeswoman Smita Vats Sharma told AFP. The train reached the capital “safely” ahead of its first commercial journey on Sunday, she added. Cattle obstructions on roads and rail tracks are common in India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh state where Saturday’s collision happened. Since coming to office, Modi’s nationalist party launched a crackdown on the slaughter of cows -- considered sacred by many Hindus -- which has led to crisis numbers of stray and unwanted cattle in the state. India is struggling to upgrade its colonial-era railway system, which relies on creaking and outdated infrastructure to transport 23 million travelers each day. Locally-made express train The locally-made express train has a rated top speed of 180 kilometers (111 miles) an hour, 20 percent quicker than the next fastest train in service. Railway authorities say the train is expected to reduce the 850-kilometer journey between the two cities from 14 to eight hours. Saturday’s accident is the latest controversy for the express train -- a pet project of Modi’s government, which has vowed to debut India’s first bullet train in 2022. Last week India’s rail minister Piyush Goyal was left red-faced after he tweeted a digitally altered video of the train zipping by a station at lightning speed. He was later accused of altering the video to make the train appear faster, triggering widespread social media ridicule. *AFP

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Indonesia police apologize for using snake in Papuan interrogation

[2/12/2019 3:16:08 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Indonesian police have acknowledged officers terrorized a Papuan man with a live snake after a video of the incident circulated online showing the man screaming in fear and his interrogator laughing. Police in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region apologized but also attempted to justify the officers’ actions by saying the snake was not venomous and that they hadn’t resorted to beating the man, who was suspected of theft. Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said on Sunday that the interrogation methods were torture and violated police policies as well as several laws. She said it was only the latest of several reports of police and military using snakes to terrorize Papuan detainees and symptomatic of a culture of racism against indigenous Papuans. Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee, which advocates for independence from Indonesia, was put in a cell with a snake and also beaten after being arrested in January, Koman said. Police indicated the incident with the alleged thief happened recently, during a crackdown on petty crime in Jayawijaya district. The spread of the video had forced police into a “very rare” apology, Koman said, while also criticizing the attempt to provide a justification. The one minute and 20 second video shows the dark brown snake, at least two meters long, wrapped around the handcuffed suspect’s neck and waist and an officer pushing its head into the man’s face as he becomes increasingly hysterical. Officers appear to be asking how many times he’d stolen cellphones. Ethics training Jayawijaya police chief Tonny Ananda Swadaya said in a statement the officers had been disciplined by being given ethics training and moved to other locations. Papua province’s police spokesman said the officers involved are being questioned by an internal affairs division of the national police. “We apologize for the incident,” Kamal told The Associated Press. “Institutionally we do not recognize such an unprofessional method of interrogation, and we guarantee that such an inhuman method will not happen again in the future.” The events are likely to further inflame tensions in the region where an insurgency has simmered since the early 1960s when Indonesia took control of the western half of the island of New Guinea, formerly a Dutch colony. Police and military have carried out a sweeping crackdown on independence supporters after rebel fighters in December killed 19 people working on a construction site for the trans-Papua highway. A Polish man who is being held in a Jayawijaya prison while on trial for treason said earlier this week he’d been assaulted by police officers visiting the prison as guards looked on. *AP

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Zara Spa at Mövenpick Resort & Tala Bay Aqaba Offering A Reviving Winter Escape

[2/11/2019 6:02:36 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Opening its doors to a rejuvenating tranquility for the body and soul, Zara Spa at Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba welcomes visitors to dive deep into their senses for a worry-free spa experience. Providing the ideal escape from the winter months, the award-winning Zara Spa Tala Bay transports guests to a holistic journey away from the stress of the bustling city life. It has everything a guest could require whether they are looking to rebalance their spirits, reinvigorate their bodies or simply enjoy an indulgent beauty treatment. Zara Spa’s state-of-the-art facilities including 11 treatment rooms, a solar powered hydro pool, sauna, ice fountain and a honeymoon wing are all set to boost wellness and therapeutic benefits. The ZARA Spa experience does not end there; it inspires the senses to extend through the beauty salon, nail studio, steam room and a gift shop offering all-natural and high-end spa products. Zara Spa at Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba calming surroundings, promises a spiritual journey of relaxation away from reality.

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Rembrandt, Vermeer artworks now on display at Louvre Abu Dhabi

[2/10/2019 3:39:21 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to carry the famed name outside of France, announced Sunday it would roll out works by Dutch masters Rembrandt and Vermeer this month. Works by the two artists are part of the gallery’s first exhibition this year, entitled “Rembrandt, Vermeer and the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden collection and the Musee du Louvre”. The exhibit, on display in the United Arab Emirates’ capital from February 14 to May 18, is dedicated to the famed “fijnschilders” -- fine painters -- of the Netherlands. “Rembrandt is a master of the Golden Age,” museum head Manuel Rabate told AFP. “He’s a universal genius, he’s connected to the world,” he added. The exhibition includes 95 works, including Vermeer’s “Young Woman Seated at a Virginal” alongside Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Man” and “Study of the Head and Clasped Hands of a Young Man as Christ in Prayer”. The Louvre Abu Dhabi was inaugurated with great pomp in November 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macron and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. It was marketed as “a universal museum” celebrating cultural exchange and tolerance. *AFP

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