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Latest in Culture


The real lives behind new hit book on Mumbai slums

By Ben Sheppard / AFP In her Mumbai shack, Manju Waghekar wonders if she will regret revealing the grim secrets of corruption, alcoholism and death among her friends and family for a searing new book on life in an Indian slum. Manju, 23, is a central figure in “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” a true story that …

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At SXSW media zoo, convergence is annual buzz word

By Jake Coyle / AP Increasingly, the media zoo that is SXSW looks more like today’s overlapping media world. The annual South by Southwest Conference and Festival, which begins Friday, gathers thousands of creators, performers, media and industry members for 10 days onto the boozy downtown streets of Austin, Texas. It’s really three festivals — Interactive, …

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Cuba’s sculptor of the stars can’t quit tobacco

By Jean-Herve Deiller / AFP Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, Jack Nicholson, Groucho Marx and Arnold Schwarzenegger — meet the cast of notables Janio Nunez has sculpted entirely out of Cuba’s famed tobacco. The Cuban sculptor uses the same sticky leaves and time-honored rolling techniques that go into the famed cigars enjoyed by his subjects, and which …

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THE REEL ESTATE: The magic lantern, the silent wizard and me

By Joseph Fahim What was the very first movie you’ve ever seen? Mine was Victor Fleming’s classic musical “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland. I was probably four years old. The film was showing on TV and I remember being transfixed for its entire duration. I gasped when the muted sepia-tinted Kansas suddenly gave way …

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Franco, Cornish among those with films at Tribeca

By Jake Coyle / AP This year’s Tribeca Film Festival will feature many domestically oriented movies that deal with contentious contemporary issues, from the recession to James Franco’s artistic antics. Tribeca announced the first half of its slate for this year’s festival Tuesday: 46 feature films out of a planned 90. This half includes entries in …

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That’s seriously funny: Comics tackle tough issues

By Matt Moore / AP There are wedding bells in Riverdale, but it’s not Archie and Betty or Veronica. It’s Army Lt. Kevin Keller and the physical therapist who helped him overcome his war wound — Clay Walker. Meanwhile, in the comics pages, Gil is an 8-year-old boy being raised by his divorced factory-working mom, and …

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Fluxus in Giza: Rana ElNemr and explorations of process

By Marie-Jeanne Berger “I see long streams, which are heavy, strong, dark and constant … I find them abstract, and rather incomprehensible, flowing recklessly most of the times. I call them ‘currents.’ And I see finer streams. They are shorter in length and momentary in nature, but they come in greater numbers and they carry music, …

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‘Lost’ novel by dead Nobel laureate published

By Gabriel Rubio / AFP A “lost” novel by Portuguese Nobel literature laureate Jose Saramago which he wrote in the 1950s before he achieved international acclaim has been published nearly two years after his death. Saramago sent the manuscript for “Claraboya,” which tells the tale of residents of a Lisbon apartment building, through a friend to …

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Nigeria music icon making a comeback at 85

By Aderogba Obisesan / AFP An 85-year-old music legend in Nigeria, known for the “highlife” dance music that once dominated West Africa, Fatai Rolling Dollar has mounted a surprising comeback five decades after his heyday. The octogenarian, who saw his fame and money dwindle when highlife’s popularity faded, is again playing the upbeat sound on guitar …

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A moment of silence with Shawaraena

By Maha ElNabawi The cacophony of noise in Cairo is enough to drive a person mad. The sirens, ambiguous sounds of gunfire (or fireworks?), the out of tune Imams blaring sermons through distorted speakers, the bikya man’s piercing holler around every corner, the relentless horns incessantly beeping…let’s face it, Cairo needs a mute button. Or at …

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Pitt, Clooney, Sheen headline marriage rights play

By Sandy Cohen / AP Martin Sheen commanded the stage with his impassioned portrayal of an attorney arguing for gay-marriage rights; Jane Lynch inspired instant response as a vehement same-sex marriage opponent; Brad Pitt dazzled as a judge. It was all part of the star-studded West Coast premiere of “8,” a play about the 2010 federal …

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Egyptian women show off inspiring vocal skills

By Maha ElNabawi Over the past months, Egypt-US relations have been put on the line as a result of the arbitrary raid on pro-democracy NGOs, including mostly American-funded organizations. The clampdown has left a cloud of ambiguity over official bilateral relations. But meanwhile, in an effort to expand cross-cultural understanding between both nations while also empowering …

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Gilbert and George open dark new show in Hong Kong

By Stephen Coates / AFP British artists Gilbert and George have never shied away from looking the brutal truths of life directly in the eye, and their latest collection, which debuted in Hong Kong this week, is no different. “London Pictures” is a disturbing examination of sex, violence, power and death through the medium of Britain’s …

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Vatican archive treasures go on show for first time

By Dario Thuburn / AFP Vatican archives documenting centuries of European history including Galileo Galilei’s trial documents and Martin Luther’s excommunication went on public display for the first time Wednesday. The exhibit also includes a request to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and the ‘Dictatus Papae’ of Pope Gregory VII, an 11th-century script …

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Turkey: Epic movie highlights Ottoman conquest

By Christopher Torchia / AP Turkey is on a roll these days, uplifted by economic growth and regional diplomacy. Now comes a film to boost the feel-good mood, an epic about the 15th century fall of Constantinople that fuses national pride with Hollywood-style ambition. “Fetih 1453,” or “Conquest 1453,” casts good guys (read Muslim Ottomans) against …

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US singer Badu saddened by Malaysia concert ban

By AFP American singer Erykah Badu expressed sadness this week at Malaysia’s decision to ban her show after a photo of her with body art including the Arabic word for “Allah” caused anger. Authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia scrapped the concert Tuesday, a day before it was scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur after Badu’s …

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THE REEL ESTATE:The horse whisperer’s spiritual healing

  A strong vibe of comfort, of serenity and reassurance, radiates from its frames. The fascinating, elusive subject matter of the documentary, the vast picturesque green vistas of the southern grazing lands captured so lovingly, so reverently, by the poised, perceptive lens, and the patient narrative that is thoughtful and romantic in parts yet alarmingly …

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The will to power

By Myriam Ghattas “Chronicle” (2012) is the story of three high school students who stumble upon a mysterious alien-looking substance that, upon contact, endows them with the formidable super-power of telekinesis. As Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) and Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) begin to explore their newfound powers, they graduate from silly …

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The time and place of Gazbia Sirry

By Mariam Hamdy Currently showing at the Zamalek Art Gallery is an exhibition that humbles even the most hard-working artist today, and dwarfs the efforts exerted in the local art scene. The pioneer of the Egyptian contemporary art movement, Gazbia Sirry is holding her 71st solo exhibition “Time and Place” at the gallery that has hosted …

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Everything old was new again at the Oscars

By Jocelyn Noveck / AP Justin Bieber wasn’t mincing words. “I’m here to bring you the 18 to 24-year-old demographic,” the teen pop star told Billy Crystal in the opening Oscar montage. “So, how long do you want me to stay here for?” The two were spoofing “Midnight in Paris,” a film about time travel, and …

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Simon Njami’s useful African dream

By Tom Dale Sometime around 1965, two glamorous Europeans paced through the airport of Niamey, capital of Niger. The man was laden with baggage, while the woman strode ahead toward the waiting photographer, Philipe Koudjina. Koudjina, then 25, would roam the streets and bars of the city taking portrait photographs and trying to sell them to …

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British couple caught smuggling artifacts in Egypt

By Agencies CAIRO: Egyptian police prevented a British man and his wife from smuggling 19 artifacts out of the country, an antiquities official told AFP on Sunday. The couple were stopped in the southern Luxor airport with an assortment of relics including figurines and pots dating back to several eras, said Hassan Rasmi, who monitors …

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Censors ban screening of ‘taboo’ interfaith love story

By AFP LUXOR: Egyptian filmmakers and critics denounced the authorities on Monday for blocking the screening of a “taboo” film about a love story between a Christian woman and a Muslim man. “We denounce the fact that censorship authorities have prevented the screening of Hesham Issawi’s ‘Cairo Exit’ at the Luxor African Film Festival,” dozens …

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‘The Artist’ earns best-picture, lead-actor Oscars

By David Germain / AP “The Artist” won five Academy Awards including best picture, becoming the first silent film to triumph at Hollywood’s highest honors since the original Oscar ceremony 83 years ago. Among other prizes Sunday for the black-and-white comic melodrama were best actor for Jean Dujardin and director for Michel Hazanavicius. In a night …

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‘Artist’ wins best-picture at indie Spirit Awards

By David Germain / AP “The Artist” won best picture and three other prizes Saturday at the Spirit Awards honoring independent film. The film also won for best director for Michel Hazanavicius and lead actor for Jean Dujardin as a silent-era star whose career crumbles as talking pictures take over in the 1920s. It earned the …

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Spirit Award nominees share low-budget secrets

By Christy Lemire / AP The Spirit Awards celebrate the best in low-budget filmmaking. But within those honors, the John Cassavetes Award goes to films with even lower budgets: those made for under $500,000. This year’s five nominees talked to The Associated Press about how they did it on the cheap. The winner will be announced …

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Gamal El Ghitani on preserving ‘Egyptian-ism’ (Part 2)

By Heba Elkayal Gamal El Ghitani’s writing on Egypt is first and foremost sensitive to and celebratory of the notion of the Egyptian identity vis-à-vis its history, starting with Ancient Egypt to the Mamluk era to modern day. On Feb. 29, the El Ghitani will give a reading of his novella, “Pyramid Texts,” at the “A …

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Gamal El Ghitani on preserving ‘Egyptian-ism’ (Part 1)

By Heba Elkayal Gamal El Ghitani’s writing on Egypt is first and foremost sensitive to and celebratory of the notion of the Egyptian identity vis-à-vis its history, starting with Ancient Egypt to the Mamluk era to modern day. In his works — which include modern classics such as “The Zafarani Files,” “Zayni Barakat” and “Rinn” among …

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Where will the Oscar surprises come from?

By Steve Pond / TheWrap (Reuters) The Oscar races can’t be decided already. Yes, “The Artist” and Jean Dujardin and Viola Davis and Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer and Michel Hazanavicius seem to have every reason to polish those acceptance speeches. (Keep it under 45 seconds, folks, be emotional, don’t read lists!) But I’ve noticed a …

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Synecdoche, Islamic art

By Marie-Jeanne Berger It is usually a bad omen to walk into a gallery and find out that the collection on display belongs to the ruler of the country that the gallery is named after. Luckily for the art-going public with access to the new American University in Cairo campus, Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi (member …

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