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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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Reese Witherspoon, husband Jim Toth make ‘difficult decision to divorce’

Oscar-winning actor and producer Reese Witherspoon and her talent agent husband Jim Toth said on Friday they had made the “difficult decision to divorce.”

The pair tied the knot in March 2011 at Witherspoon’s ranch in Ojai, California, northwest of Los Angeles. In September 2012, the couple welcomed a baby boy named Tennessee James.

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“We have enjoyed so many wonderful years together and are moving forward with deep love, kindness, and mutual respect for everything we have created together,” the couple said in a joint statement posted on Witherspoon’s Instagram account.

“Our biggest priority is our son and our entire family as we navigate this next chapter.”

Witherspoon has two older children – daughter Ava and son Deacon with first husband Ryan Phillippe. The couple divorced in 2007.

Witherspoon, 47, who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, won an best actress Oscar for her work on 2005 country music film “Walk the Line.” She has also produced several films and television shows including “Big Little Lies” and “The Morning Show.”

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Gwyneth Paltrow testifies she was struck from behind in ski collision

Oscar-winning actor Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand on Friday to testify that she was not at fault for a 2016 ski slope collision in Utah that left a man with a concussion and broken ribs, contradicting testimony from the lone witness to the incident.

Paltrow, 50, said during cross examination that she was skiing with her two children, and said that in fact she was struck by Terry Sanderson, a 76-year-old retired optometrist who filed a lawsuit seeking more than $300,000 in damages over the incident at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah.

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In court papers, Sanderson said he suffered “permanent traumatic brain injury” as a result of the collision. He initially had sought $3.1 million in damages.

“I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart, and then there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange grunting noise,” Paltrow said.

Paltrow said that is when they both fell to the ground with Paltrow on top of Sanderson, in a heap of skis and limbs.

Paltrow has filed a counter claim in Summit County District Court seeking a symbolic $1 in damages and lawyer fees.

Paltrow, who is also known for her Goop lifestyle brand, called into question prior testimony from Craig Ramon, a friend of Sanderson’s who said he heard a scream before he saw Paltrow crash into the retired optometrist.

Paltrow denied the accusation, claiming that Ramon was 40 feet away and unable to discern who was at fault.

Paltrow also refuted claims by Sanderson that she had skied off and ignored rules to share contact information with another party after an accident.

A Deer Valley Resort staff member, who was providing Paltrow and her family lessons and did not see the collision, stayed behind to provide contact information to Sanderson, she said.

The instructor, Eric Christiansen, is expected to testify next week.

Paltrow, who said she was upset and cursed at Sanderson after the collision, said she did not ski off until after Sanderson told Christiansen that he was fine.

“I did not cause the accident, so I cannot be at fault for anything that subsequently happened to him,” Paltrow said.

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Cambodian man lands ‘airplane’ house in rice field

A Cambodian airplane fanatic has built his house shaped like a private jet – despite never having been up in the air himself.

Construction worker Chrach Peou spent his $20,000 life savings building the concrete “plane” – complete with wings, tailfin, landing gear and engines – near the town of Siem Reap, gateway to the famed Angkor Wat temple complex.

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The 43-year-old widowed father of three said it took him almost a year to build, using money he had saved over 30 years.

“This is my dream since I was young, so I am happy I could achieve my goal,” Peou said.

The house, which has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, stands elevated on pillars six meters above a rice field.

“We can live here, sleep here, use bathrooms here, and have meals here like on a plane. It is my own, I am so happy,” Peou told AFP.

He said he designed the house after watching countless videos of private jets on the internet.

He charges people 50 cents to $1 to visit and take selfies by the house.

“It is beautiful, attractive, there are palm trees nearby,” Kim Muoy, 28, told AFP during a visit to the airplane house with her family.

But Peou dreams of flying for real one day.

“When I have money and know where I want to go to, I will take a plane to go there,” he said.

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