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Sharjah Film Platform 4 opens with a rich fare of screenings

The fourth edition of the Sharjah Film Platform (SFP4) organized by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) got off to a flying start on Friday (November 19, 2021) with an opening reception and three film screenings.
The evening screenings at the open-air Mirage Cinema included the premiere of ‘The Myth of Manila’ (2021) by Janus Victoria as well as Pelin Tan and Anton Vidokle’s work in progress ‘Notes for a film about Gilgamesh’ (2021), both of which were supported by SFP Short Film Production Grants.
The evening concluded with the regional premiere of the award-winning ‘Zahori’ by Marí Alessandrini.
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Janus Victoria, the Director of ‘The Myth of Manila,’ in comments after the screening of her docufiction, said that the generous film grant from SAF was a “rare opportunity to make a film during a pandemic.”
“While the very process of filmmaking was full of uncertainty, during the pandemic, the uncertainty was increased hundredfold.”
‘The Myth of Manila’ was a prequel to another feature film she was planning on doing, she said.
The main thesis of o ‘The Myth of Manila,’ according to the director was that “Every city is a myth. The pandemic removed that sheen and showed the city for what is. For the first time, people wanted to actually get out of a place that was not healthy.”
Based on actual news reports, the story line of ‘The Myth of Manila,’ of a news reporter who is personally dealing with the health ramifications of coronavirus, while at the same time maneuvering around the city which she used to know like the palm of her hand, is gripping for the audience and according to the director “not far from actual reality.”

Pelin Tan and Anton Vidokle in ‘Notes for a film about Gilgamesh’ traverses a landscape that covers myth, afterlife, and ends in a contemporary landscape. It is indeed an audacious and daring cinematic journey.
The backdrop of ‘Zahori,’ on the other hand is the Patagonian steppe a grey wind sweeps the whole area. Mora, the 13-years-old protagonist, wants to be a “gaucho.” She rebels against school and affirms herself to her parents, Swiss Italian ecologists, whose dream of autonomy turns into a nightmare.
Mora will goes deep into steppe to help her only friend Nazareno, an old Mapuche who has lost his horse, Zahorí.
Marí Alessandrini’s mastery over the medium is so great that the landscape, nature, animals, and the people combine to grip the minds of the viewer.
The Foundation’s annual film festival supports emerging and established filmmakers in the MENASA region and beyond through film screenings and a public program of talks and workshops, grants, and professional development initiatives.
SFP4 which runs till November 27, 2021, features screenings in cinemas and online of more than 50 films, including world and regional premiers, culminating in the presentation of awards for films submitted to an international open call for short and feature length films in narrative, documentary and experimental genres.
“The annual Sharjah Film Platform plays an increasingly critical role in the realisation of our commitment to supporting and presenting the work of emerging filmmakers from the UAE, the MENASA region and beyond. New programs, such as the Industry Hub, introduced last year, have already helped projects by regional filmmakers into production and we continue to offer grants to support the making of new work,” said SAF Director Hoor Al Qasimi.
“This year we introduce curated film programs and a series of workshops and events for children. By bringing together local, regional, and international filmmakers and audiences, the Film Platform gives us an opportunity to celebrate experimentation and creativity and to explore critical topics such as representation, identity and belonging.”

Read more: Farmanfarmaian’s ‘Khayyam Fountain’ on view at Al Hamriyah Studios in Sharjah

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Iraqi boy, 10, eludes security to board Iran-bound plane

Iraqi aviation authorities have been left red-faced after a 10-year-old boy on his own boarded an Iran-bound plane from the international airport in Najaf city after several security checks.

The airport authorities said Wednesday they would review security after the boy passed under the radar of seven checks, mixing in with large crowds of travelers.

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The child was only intercepted after boarding an Iran Air-chartered aircraft, airport manager Hikmat Ahmed told AFP.

About five hours after his arrival at the airport on Monday night, “the plane crew contacted us about him,” he said.

“Anyone who failed in their duties will be sanctioned, fired or transferred” after an investigation, the official said.

According to a security source, his parents who live in a district near the airport had informed police of his disappearance.

Iraq’s civil aviation authority said a private firm had since 2019 been in charge of security at Najaf airport, which receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year.

“All legal procedures” would be taken against the company once the investigation has been completed, it said.

Read more: Sandstorm forces closure of Iraqi airports and public buildings

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British model Kate Moss says Johnny Depp never threw her down any stairs

British model Kate Moss on Wednesday dismissed reports that her former boyfriend Johnny Depp once threw her down a flight of stairs, saying it never happened.

“He never pushed me, kicked me or threw me down any stairs,” said Moss, who was testifying as a witness at Depp’s defamation trial against his former wife Amber Heard.

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The 58-year-old Depp filed suit against Heard over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in December 2018 in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

Heard, 36, did not name the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star in the op-ed, but he sued her for implying he was a domestic abuser and is seeking $50 million in damages.

The Texas-born Heard countersued, asking for $100 million and claiming she suffered “rampant physical violence and abuse” at his hands.

Heard, during her testimony earlier this month, mentioned a reported incident in which Depp was alleged to have pushed his former girlfriend Moss down a flight of stairs.

That reference provided an opening to Depp’s lawyers to call Moss as a witness to address the allegation and she testified by video link from Gloucestershire, England.

The 48-year-old Moss said she had a romantic relationship with Depp from 1994 to 1998.

She was asked about an incident which occurred during a vacation the couple took to a resort in Jamaica.

“We were leaving the room and Johnny left the room before I did,” Moss said. “And there’d been a rainstorm and as I left the room I slid down the stairs and I hurt my back.”

“And I screamed because I didn’t know what had happened to me and I was in pain. He came running back to help me and carried me to my room and got me medical attention.”

Heard’s lawyers declined to cross-examine Moss.

Read more:

Heard: Depp team of enablers shielded his drug, alcohol use

Johnny Depp lawyers seek to discredit ex-wife domestic violence claims

Depp libel suit moves ahead against Heard after resting case

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Pfizer to sell all its patented drugs at non-profit price in 45 low-income countries

Pfizer Inc will make all of its patented medicines including COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid and big-selling breast cancer drug Ibrance available at a not-for-profit price to 45 of the world’s poorest countries, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.
These countries lack good access to innovative treatments. It can take four to seven years longer for new treatments to become available in low-income countries, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, if they become available at all.

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Pfizer said its plan includes 23 wholly-owned, patented medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, certain cancers, and rare and inflammatory diseases. In addition to Paxlovid and Ibrance, the list includes pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13, rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz and cancer treatments Xalkori and Inlyta.
The COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty developed with BioNTech SE was also on the list.
Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in an interview that all the medicines being made available should be of use.
“But clearly the antiviral (Paxlovid) is going to be a very big deal for them — if they need it they can get it immediately,” he said.
When Pfizer launches new medicines and vaccines, they will also be included in the drug portfolio at a not-for-profit price, it said.
The 27 low-income countries and 18 lower-income countries included in what Pfizer is calling “An Accord for a Healthier
World” cover most of Africa and much of Southeast Asia. Five countries — Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda — have already committed to joining the accord, which was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said in a statement the accord will allow the countries and the drugmaker to share “the
burden of costs and tasks in the production and delivery of supplies that will save millions of lives.”
Pfizer has been criticized for how it rolled out its COVID-19 vaccine, with some poorer countries waiting for months after the earliest doses arrived in wealthier countries.
Bourla said the new accord has been informed by the difficulties of that rollout, particularly the lack of health infrastructure in some countries that made distributing the vaccine difficult.
“Instead of washing our hands and saying, ‘I gave you the product, do whatever you want with them,’ we’re saying, ‘We’ll
give you the products and we will sit with you to see how we can help organize a system that can utilize them,’” Bourla said.

Read more: Pfizer, UAE renew partnership to deal with cancer incidence, spread awareness

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