|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
13 - 19 September 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Plays and prizesTHIS year's Cairo International Festival of Experimental Theatre closed on Tuesday night with the final ceremony held, as usual, at the Main Hall of the Opera House. This year the prize for best performance was awarded to the Palestinian troupe, Al- Qassaba Theatre of Ramallah, for their play Qissas Taht Al-Ihtilal (Stories Under Occupation). The audience responded ecstatically to the announcement of the jury's decision -- support for the Palestinian cause obviously evident in the jubilation of those attending the ceremony. Directed by Nizar Al-Zo'by, Qissas Taht Al-Ihtilal is essentially a series of monologues reconstructing events of the year-long Intifada and poignantly focusing on how coverage of the uprising has transformed Palestinians from individuals into news items and anonymous statistics.
Interestingly, none of the Egyptian troupes competing within the festival managed to win a prize this year.
Austrian director Edith Brown walked away with the prize for best director for her play Side Suns. Spanish actress Charu Sojo was awarded the prize for best actress for her portrayal of the title role in an adaptation of Euripedes' Electra. Al-Munif Sayem, the Tunisian actor who played the lead in Al-Munshar Al-Ha'ir (The Perplexed Saw), by the Phou Theatre Troupe, took the prize for best actor. The prize for best production went to the Polish performance Carmen Funebre, an exploration of the war in Bosnia and, by extension, other ethnic conflicts around the world.
CIFET's closing ceremony also honoured nine leading figures from international theatre, among them the Egyptian actor Mahmoud Yassin.
(See Off the record)
In the ringStarring Will Smith (Men in Black, Wild Wild West) and directed by Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat, The Insider), Sony's new film production, Ali, will be released in December. Following Leon Gast's documentary, When We Were Kings (1996), Ali is the first film narrative of the boxing icon Cassius (Mohamed Ali) Clay's rise to fame.
Covering the period from Clay's victory over Sonny Liston in the 1964 US heavyweight championship to his 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" against George Foreman in Zaire, it focuses on his dual role as performer and prophet.
"This isn't just Michael's fight movie," actor Ron Silver, who plays Clay's coach Agelo Dundee, announced. "For Michael, this is a story about the sixties, race relations, Vietnam and rebelling against the system."
Striving to be as faithful to "reality" as possible, Mann sought out the real-life Clay, Dundee and the photographer Howard Bingham, Clay's long-time friend (played by Jeffrey Wright); the latter also contributed to the production of the film.
"The challenge was how do you tell history from inside out?" Mann explained. Himself a sixties rebel who encountered Malcom X (played by Mario Van Peebles) at the same time as Clay, Mann found the movie "a high-wire act," he said, "because you're trying to put yourself inside someone who was a genius."
The filming of Ali was completed in May.
Swan songNisaa Raaidat (Woman Pioneers) is the title of the next project to be undertaken by Misr Al-Alamiya, the production company owned and directed by Youssef Chahine.
A 12-episode television series depicting the life and work of 12 world figures "chosen on an objective basis and covering every field of endeavour," Nisaa Raaidat will be Misr Al-Alamiya's last production, a company spokesperson announced last week.
The company, he said, will close down indefinitely after the filming and sale of Nisaa Raaidat, due to financial difficulties that reflect its "vulnerability to the industry's newly emerging monopolies."
Misr Al-Alamiya is in the process of selecting the director and cast of each episode.
Cadences on offerSouq Okaz (The Okaz Market), an international poetic forum featuring Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and, in its gargantuan extracurricular programme, Franco- Algerian pop star Cheb Khaled, opened on Sunday in Amman.
Organised by the Jordanian Middle East Centre for Culture and Innovation in collaboration with a number of institutions including UNESCO, Souq Okaz is named after the historical Arab "poets' market," an occasion on which poets on pedestals would improvise, competing for the attention of the audience.
The present-day incarnation, executive director Iman Al-Hindawi explained, brings the concept to the present historical moment, with globalisation and its effects on "the cultures of the Arab World" as the main discussion topic.brings the concept to the present historical moment, with globalisation and its effects on "the cultures of the Arab World" as the main discussion topic.
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