If you had asked me 5 or 6 years ago what I thought about Tony Khalife or Joe Maalouf’s TV show, I would have probably told you that they need to be shut down. However, as social media is becoming more and more important in Lebanon and the Arab world, these shows are mainly feeding on hot social media topics and taking them a step further, and are helping (sometimes) shed the light on other important topics. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean that the hosts are doing a fine job and should be praised. On the contrary, I’ve been criticizing and bashing Khalife and Maalouf for years and I still disapprove of their methods and some of the stories they cover but the fact that they are able to tackle any topic they want and say (almost) whatever they want on TV, even if it’s wrong, is something we somehow need in Lebanon.
Take for example tonight’s episode with the guy who was filmed beating his wife in ABC Dbayyeh. Both criticized and bashed the man and Maalouf went as far as accusing him of bribery. He even decided to hang up on him at some point when the guy stopped making any sense. Again I’m not saying I approve of such behavior but you need someone to do this dirty job and they are doing it for us and indirectly forcing those who committed a certain crime or are involved in a scandal to show up and defend themselves or state their point of view. More importantly, the fact that the original video spread via social media got people engaged in the show and helped spread the story even further and put more pressure on the concerned parties (juridical body) to do something about it.
Again I am not a fan of these shows to be honest and I struggle to watch them but I do so when there’s a hot story going viral online because both hosts are very well connected and powerful enough (I don’t know who’s backing them) to say whatever they want and they almost always manage to surprise me with the amount of information they collect, specially Joe Maalouf. Unfortunately, their take on some issues is sometimes disappointing and even shocking, like when Tony Khalife was taking sides with some Sheikh and bashing Kafa and other NGOs for trying to help women being abused, or when Maalouf revealed a secret hideout for gays in Lebanon causing their arrest, but that’s where the online community should intervene and pressure them to apologize for their mistakes.
All in all, social media is still growing rapidly in Lebanon and is leading to positive changes in our society but it still didn’t reach a point where it can have a serious impact on some matters, mainly because the authorities rarely listen to what people are saying, and more importantly because some parties are hijacking social media and “imposing” their views by spamming our timelines. We need more online influencers and by that I don’t mean popular Instagram accounts
This is an old video where Jumblatt appeared on a famous TV show on LBC and was asked to call a random pastry shop and order two huge Knefe platters to be delivered within 5 minutes. I think Jumblatt should consider doing his own comedy show after he retires from politics as he’s quite hilarious on Twitter lately. Moreover, he’s been in politics since ever and is powerful enough to come up with jokes all day on other politicians and get away with them.
I was watching Yasmine Hamdan, another highly talented Lebanese artist, when I read about Ely Dagher winning the Palme D’or at the 69th Cannes Film Festival for his short movie Waves ’98. Ely is the first Lebanese to make it to the official selection since Maroun Baghdadi’s film in 1982 and the 29-year old has become the first Lebanese to receive the Palme d’Or since Baghdadi.
Ely’s 14-minute long film is “about Omar, a high-school kid living in the northern suburb of Beirut, struggling in his social bubble”. I couldn’t find yet the full movie online but I will share it as soon as I do.
Congrats to Ely and I’m sure this is just the start for our young and talented director.
The union of Cable providers in Lebanon (I didn’t know they had a union) decided to take down LBCI yesterday as a sign of protest against the decision taken by 8 local TVs to make them pay a fee for broadcasting their shows. LBCI, Future TV, Tele Liban, NBN, Al Jadeed, Manar, OTV and MTV all set new broadcasting rules by asking cable providers to pay 4 dollars for each subscriber, and asking all cable providers to sign official documents that grant them broadcasting rights.
Honestly speaking, I think it’s about time someone regulated this whole process and put an end to illegal cable providers in Lebanon. I rarely watch TV but I remember I had to call the cable guy almost every Sunday when I was at my parents to be able to watch Formula 1 or some football game. The quality of the image is bad, they control what you’re watching and rarely answer the phone when needed. Moreover, the fact that they are able to randomly shut down LBCI just to protest is quite absurd and unheard of.
Some may argue that we shouldn’t have to pay to watch local TVs but they need to monetize to survive in this market and having illegal cable providers rebroadcast all their shows for free doesn’t make sense, specially when there are affordable and legal providers like Econet and Cable Vision.
The short movie Waves ’98 by 2012 cinema-grantee Ely Dagher was selected by the 2015 Short Films Competition of the Cannes Festival out of 4550 short films submitted. These films will all run for the 2015 Short Film Palme d’or, to be awarded by Abderrahmane Sissako, President of the Jury, at the official prize-giving ceremony of the 68th Festival de Cannes on 24th May. This will be the first Lebanese film in the official selection since Maroun Baghdadi’s film in 1982.
This is great news for Ely and Lebanon. I wish him all the best! I shared below the synopsis and the trailer:
Written and directed by Dagher (Lebanon), the 14-minute long Waves ’98 is about Omar, a high-school kid living in the northern suburb of Beirut, struggling in his social bubble. On a quiet afternoon, on a terrace looking over the city he notices something strange, a sort of Giant golden animal protruding from between the buildings that draws him and leads to his discovery of a special part of the city.
Hollywood star Salma Hayek arrived to Beirut a couple of days ago and visited yesterday the museum of Lebanese-born poet and philosopher Gebran Khalil Gebran in Bcharreh. Salma is here for her movie “The Prophet” world premiere which will be held at Cinemacity in Beirut Souks.
The premiere will be a private event and few people were invited to attend. If L’Orient Le Jour’s info is accurate, the projection of the movie will be followed by a private dinner for 300 people at La villa Rose at ESA. I was actually eager to watch the movie tonight but I guess we will have to wait till Thursday when it’s officially released. The Prophet is based on Gebran Khalil Gebran’s masterpiece and will feature a voice cast including Salma Hayek as Kamila, Liam Neeson as Mustafa, John Krasinski as Halim, Alfred Molina as Sergeant, Quvenzhané Wallis as Almitra and Frank Langella as Pasha.
Hiba is officially in the semi-finals of The Voice France after winning the public vote one more time. The next round will take place on April 18th and will feature the remaining 8 candidates:
– Camille Lellouche
– Anne Sila
– Battista Acquaviva
– David Thibault
– Guilhem Valayé
– Lilian Renaud
Mika was impressed by Hiba’s performance but Jennifer wasn’t very convinced and wants Hiba to sing in Arabic like she did at the start of the show. Honestly, I think Hiba is playing it safe and leaving the best for last which is a smart strategy, plus I wouldn’t trust Jennifer specially after what she did with Anthony Touma.
I wrote a couple of weeks back that Gebran Khalil Gebran’s The Prophet animated movie is set to be released on August 7 2015 in LA and New York, but I had heard that it might debut in Beirut by end of April and the news got confirmed few days ago on the movie’s Facebook page. Salma Hayek is coming to Beirut on April 27 for The Prophet’s Beirut premiere and worldwide launch!
The Prophet will feature a voice cast including Salma Hayek as Kamila little Almitra’s mother, Liam Neeson as Mustafa, John Krasinski as Halim, Alfred Molina as Sergeant, Quvenzhané Wallis as Almitra and Frank Langella as Pasha. Gebran Khalil Gebran was born in 1884 in Bcharreh, a village in the north of Lebanon in 1884 where he was buried and a museum was inaugurated in his memory in Mar Sarkis’ monastery. The Prophet was published in 1923 and is Gebran’s most popular work. The book has been translated into over 40 languages and has sold over 100 million copies.
I’m really looking forward to this movie and I hope I will get to meet Salma Hayek in Beirut. Check out the movie’s [trailer] in case you haven’t already.
I missed out on Fast & Furious 7’s avant-premiere but I finally got to watch it yesterday and I absolutely loved it. To be honest, I was expecting to get bored at some time because I heard it’s too long and laugh at all the fake scenes and flying cars, but the movie was exciting and captivating the whole way through, the ridiculousness of the action scenes was entertaining in itself and the best part for me was the emotional ending and the great tribute to Paul Walker.
The scene I loved the most was the one on the mountain as I felt like I was in a Need For Speed race, and the scenes shot in Abu Dhabi are pretty impressive to say the least. Funnily enough, the Lykan Hypersport flying from one tower to the other was more realistic or should I say less fake than most of the other scene and car chases, but it was a great scene even though I wanted to see that super-car race on the ground. There’s one thing I didn’t appreciate in Abu Dhabi and Colorado which is how the scenes are cut and how we move from one place to another without understanding what happened or how they managed to get away. Speaking of Abu Dhabi, what’s up with the hot babes and extravagant parties? Is that really what goes on there?
In terms of acting, I was worried that Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw) might ruin the series but he turned out to be a fine addition and the cars they chose for me were just perfect, specially the 2015 Maserati Quattroporte. Otherwise, Vin Diesel was good, Roman Pearce and Tej Parker are hilarious, Kurt Russel is cool but looks really old, Letty Ortiz was a bit boring unlike the new girl Ramsey. Paul Walker was still my favorite actor among the gang and he will truly missed.
All in all, Fast & Furious 7 defies all the laws of physics but it’s thrilling and fun and Walker’s final tribute is a genuine and touching one. I never thought I’d be saying that, but I can’t wait for the next one!
Update: There are still 12 candidates left out of which 4 will compete in the finals. I corrected the title from Semi-finals to the next round as there are 2 more rounds before the finals.
Hiba Tawaji is through to the quarter finals of The Voice France after she won the public vote with her last performance. The judges had no say in the final result so Hiba needed everyone’s support as she was competing with 3 other contestants from Mika’s team. She chose to perform Everytime by Britney Spears which I believe suited her better than Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”.
Hiba is a step closer to the finals and I’m sure she can win this!
For those of you who couldn’t find the video and asked me to share it, Hiba is uploading all her performances on her YouTube channel and you can check them [there].