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>> AF­TER CON­QUER­ING CANNES, #CAPERNAUM JOINS COV­ETED OS­CARS RACE

Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Ziad Doueiri’s The In­sult last year, Le­banon earned its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Os­car nom­i­na­tion in the Best For­eign Lan­guage Film cat­e­gory this year thanks to none but renowned Le­banese film­maker Na­dine Labaki. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the cov­eted Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, Labaki’s fea­ture film Capernaum was an­nounced as an Os­car con­tender on Jan­uary 22, prompt­ing the cor­re­spond­ing hash­tag to the top of Twit­ter’s trend­ing top­ics. The nom­i­na­tion also marks a first for Arab women film­mak­ers, as no other fe­male di­rec­tor from the re­gion has pre­vi­ously been nom­i­nated in this cat­e­gory. Rack­ing up rave re­views from crit­ics, the gen­eral pub­lic and celebri­ties like Oprah and Salma Hayek, the film ad­dresses Le­banon’s refugee cri­sis through the story of Zain, a 12-year-old boy who de­cides to sue his own par­ents for bring­ing him into the world.

>> LE­BANESE TV AN­CHOR #DIMASADEK UN­DER FIRE OVER MIS­IN­TER­PRETED TWEET

Le­banese TV An­chor Dima Sadek found her­self in hot wa­ters over a con­tro­ver­sial tweet sent out on Jan­uary 19 fea­tur­ing an un­cred­ited im­age of a non-veiled woman walk­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion of a crowd of veiled women with a mag­a­zine in hand, cap­tioned with the word ‘Bril­liant’ [in for­mal Ara­bic]. The photo, orig­i­nally ti­tled ‘Ques­tion­ing Rad­i­cal­ism’, was part of a series of three im­ages from award-win­ning April 2018 cam­paign ‘Chang­ing Your Per­spec­tive - Ques­tion­ing War’ by Y&R Czechia for Re­porter mag­a­zine. And while the ini­tial pur­pose of the ads was to show that the in­sights pro­vided by the in­ves­tiga­tive pub­li­ca­tion in ques­tion have the strength to change read­ers’ per­spec­tive, a ma­jor­ity of the Le­banese mass au­di­ence seemed to be un­aware of the back­story, which re­sulted in the tweet be­ing taken com­pletely out of con­text, prompt­ing atro­cious crit­i­cism against Sadek. Is­raeli mil­i­tary leader Avichay Adraee jumped in on the hype with a re­sponse tweet link­ing the im­age to Hezbol­lah, which in turn stirred up a strongly-worded re­ply from the jour­nal­ist, who then pro­ceeded to block him on Twit­ter.

>> #SAVERAHAF: TWIT­TER USERS JOIN FORCES TO HELP PROS­E­CUTED SAUDI GIRL

A Saudi teen by the name of Ra­haf Mo­hammed took to Twit­ter on Jan­uary 4 to send out a pledge for help while stranded in Bangkok air­port af­ter flee­ing her abu­sive Kuwait-based fam­ily and getting her pass­port ceased by Saudi of­fi­cials. "I'm the girl who ran away to Thai­land. I'm now in real dan­ger be­cause the Saudi em­bassy is try­ing to force me to re­turn," her first Ara­bic tweet read, as she pro­ceeded to live-tweet her or­deal. The teen’s cry for help quickly res­onated with the on­line com­mu­nity, grow­ing her num­ber of fol­low­ers from 24 to 27,000 in less than 24 hours and lead­ing to the birth of top trend­ing hash­tag #Saverahaf, ap­pear­ing in over half a mil­lion tweets on the day of the in­ci­dent. The cause at­tracted sev­eral ac­tivists, jour­nal­ists and govern­ment of­fi­cials world­wide, who tweeted their sup­port for the teenager and urged world lead­ers/rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to pro­tect her. Canada, rep­re­sented by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, ul­ti­mately ac­cepted the United Na­tions re­quest to give asy­lum to the 18-year-old, grant­ing her emer­gency re­set­tle­ment. Mo­hammed safely landed in Toronto on Jan­uary 11.

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