>> 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.