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Lineup announced for Blue Mountain Film Festival –

Helen du Toit, executive and artistic director for the Blue Mountain Film Festival (BMFF), today announced the festival’s 2022 programming lineup including its opening- and closing-night presentations.

In this inaugural edition, the lineup will consist of 25 films from 25 countries, including Canada, China, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Sweden, Israel, France, Saudi Arabia, Malta, Australia, Germany, and the United States.

“The BMFF programming team has curated a diverse selection of powerful films for our inaugural year,” said du Toit. “From comedy, romance, and adventure, to heavier themes such as war, human rights, and social issues, this slate of films reflects some of the most influential current films from around the world.”

The festival’s opening-night feature is the Canadian film Slash/Back by director Nyla Innuksuk. This Indigenous horror follows Maika and her ragtag friends as they discover an alien invasion in their tiny Arctic hamlet. Utilizing makeshift weapons and their horror movie knowledge, the aliens soon realize that you don’t mess with the girls from Pang.

The closing-night program, Fire of Love by Sara Dosa, memorializes two eccentric Alsatians travelling the planet in hot pursuit of their shared lifelong obsession. This American-Canadian documentary won the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award at Sundance Film Festival 2022 and the Special Jury Prize at Seattle International Film Festival 2022. 

The festival’s lineup 

The Albanian Virgin by Bujar Alimani

Luana’s arranged marriage to the initially charming Flamur quickly sours when his Machiavellian nature is revealed. Defending his daughter’s honour, Erion ends up dead — leaving his daughter, Luana, in the midst of a blood feud that forces a daunting choice.

Barakat by Amy Japhta

In this warm, funny, South African family drama, Amy Jephta focuses on a Muslim widow gearing up to tell her four grown sons that she has fallen in love again, with a non-believer.

Blind Ambition by Warwick Ross and Robert Coe

Competing for their native Zimbabwe at the World Wine Blind Tasting Championship, four economic refugees show that opportunity is all.

Carmen by Valerie Buhagiar

Abruptly homeless after dedicating her life to looking after her brother, a Catholic priest, Maltese spinster Carmen (Natasha McElhone) assumes his place in the confessional box, dispensing subversive advice to the surprised supplicants in this whimsical feminist romance.

Casablanca Beats/Haut et Fort by Nabil Ayouch

Inspired by filmmaker Nabil Ayouch’s experience of opening a creative arts centre for youth in a Casablanca ghetto, this punchy, propulsive drama fuses music, drama and realism to potent effect.

Nominations include the Palme d’Or from Festival de Cannes 2021 and Best Foreign Language Film from Palm Springs International Film Festival 2022.

Costa Brava Lebanon by Mounia Akl

A family living in isolation off the grid is dismayed when the government annexes the adjoining land to put in a landfill. This impressively nuanced, novelistic drama subtly reveals the bonds and tensions within the family unit.

Notable awards include the NETPAC Award from TIFF 2021 and the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize from El Gouna Film Festival 2021.

Everybody Hates Johan/Alle Hater Johan by Hallvar Witzø

After years away in the U.S. as a technician blaster, Johan returns to his rural childhood home in Norway in hopes of reconciling with Solovar, who still bears the scars from their old escapades. The entire town is set against him but the towering Johan is determined to build a life for himself.

Farha by Darin J. Sallam

A 14-year-old girl is swept up in the Israeli invasion of Palestine in 1948. Darin J. Sallam’s memorable feature debut demonstrates how a narrow focus can still reveal deep truths.

Nominations include the New Voices/New Visions Grand Jury Prize from Palm Springs International Film Festival 2022 and the Dragon Award from Göteborg Film Festival 2022.

Fire of Love by Sara Dosa

French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft share an all-consuming love for lava and the earth from which it spews. Sarah Dosa’s stunning doc memorializes two eccentric Alsatians travelling the planet in hot pursuit of their shared lifelong obsession: volcanoes.

Forest for the Trees by Rita Leistner

Canadian photographer-filmmaker Rita Leistner turns her lens on the denizens of a tree-planting camp in B.C. to explore what it is that brings men and women such as herself to commit to this gruelling, lonely and isolated work.

Gagarine by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh

Inspired by the youth they met while interviewing the inhabitants of a condemned apartment block in the suburbs of Paris, Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh cook up an audacious, magical, realist fable about creative resistance — with a killer soundtrack.

The film was selected for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival and also won Best First Film from the Lumière Awards 2022.

Greener Pastures/שאיפה לחיים by Assaf Abiri and Matan Guggenheim

In this delightfully cranky Israeli comedy, 75-year-old Dov belatedly embarks on a life of crime, monetizing seniors’ medical marijuana supplies on the black market.

Nominated for 12 Israeli Academy Awards.

Into the Weeds by Jennifer Baichwal

The latest environmental documentary from Canadian director Jennifer Baichwal (Anthropocene; Manufactured Landscapes) is a lucid and damning courtroom drama detailing the case for damages brought by a school groundsman against agrochemical giant Monsanto.

This film opened this year’s Hot Docs Festival.

Last Film Show by Pan Nalin

When the magic of movies conquers nine-year-young Samay’s heart, he moves heaven and earth in pursuit of his 35mm dreams, unaware of heartbreaking times that await him. Set in India.

Navalny by Daniel Roher

Enthralling and intimate, Navalny unfolds with the pace of a thriller as it follows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in his quest to identify the men who poisoned him in August 2020. Through Roher’s extraordinary access to the investigation, this fly-on-the-wall documentary is also a study of a man intent on reform who will not be cowed by anything, including his own poisoning.

Notable awards include both the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award in the U.S. Documentary competition and the fan-selected Festival Favorite Award.

Nelly & Nadine by Magnus Gertten

In this transfixing, beautifully crafted documentary, Magnus Gertten gently reveals an exceptionally resonant love story between two remarkable women who met in a German concentration camp in 1944.

Official Competition/Competencia Oficial by Mariano Cohn and Gaston Dupart

Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez have a ball sending up the pretensions and hugely fragile egos of movie folk in this sharply funny film biz satire.

Slash/Back by Nyla Innuksuk

When a group of Inuk adolescent girls have a close encounter with an undead polar bear, it’s the signal that their town is in desperate danger. Genuinely thrilling, Nyla Innuksuk’s endearing teen chiller is a ton of fun.

Our Home/Utama by Alejandro Loayza Grisi

High in the Bolivian Andes, a llama farmer confronts his own mortality and the impending death of an ancient way of life.

Phantom of the Open by Craig Roberts

Mark Rylance stars as cheeky underdog Maurice Flitcroft, who entered the British Open in 1976 despite never having played a full round of golf before. This cheerful comedy hits the sweet spot.

Plaza Catedral by Abner Benaim

This compelling Panamanian thriller zeroes in on an unhappy, middle-aged divorcee and the desperate street kid who shows up at her door bleeding from a bullet wound. In helping him, she opens herself up to a world of trouble.

Secret Screening

With our inaugural secret screening we invite you to take a flier and trust our programmers to serve up something special. This movie could come from anywhere, but we promise it’s something we love. And just as we’re keeping you dark about this evening’s entertainment, we ask you to keep a secret. Yes, that’s right. There’s only one rule at the Secret Screening club: You don’t talk about the Secret Screening.

The Strong Ones/Los Fuertes by Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo

Visiting family in a foggy Chilean fishing village for a few days before his relocation to Montreal, Lucas meets Antonio. Flirtation quickly escalates into a full-blown affair, but can these two men see a future together?

Notable awards include the Best Foreign Language Film from Florida Film Critics Circle Awards 2020 and Best Feature from OUTshine Film Festival 2020.

A Tale of Love and Desire/Une Histoire D’Amour et de Désir by Leyla Bouzid

Leyla Bouzid’s sensuous, sensitive film traces a lexicon of longing in the story of two classmates at the Sorbonne, Ahmed and Farah, who fall in love with each other and with the words of the ancient Arabic poets they’re studying.

Notable nominations include Best Screenplay from Lumières Awards 2022 and the Dragon Award from Göteborg Film Festival 2022.

We Are Living Things by Antonio Tibaldi

This defiantly unpredictable indie keeps us guessing as two illegal immigrants — one from Mexico, the other from China — bond over aliens of a different type entirely.

BMFF runs from June 1 to 5 and will also feature a Creative Forum during the first three days of the festival. Individuals interested in attending are encouraged to book accommodations at Blue Mountain Resort early. Passes are available at


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American movie director longs to shoot movies in Africa – NewsDay

Jaron D “JD” Lawrence

BY Charles Myambo
GLOBALLY acclaimed American movie director and entrepreneur Jaron D “JD” Lawrence has reportedly earned close to US$100 million through his production work and other ventures.

He is well respected in Hollywood and widely regarded as one of the best movie directors for his genre worldwide. He has described Alpha Media Holding’s chairman Trevor Ncube as a media innovator and global thought leader.

United States-based NewsDay Life & Style correspondent Charles Myambo (ND) caught up with him.

ND: You are easily one of the greatest drama directors in Hollywood. How did you master the art of drama and comedy?

JDL: “I owe it all to God without him none of what I do would be possible. With regards to mastering the art, I still have so much more to learn. I am just enjoying the process.”

ND: There are some sources online which say you have made over US$100 million dollars from directing movies and from your various business ventures. Did you ever imagine making it this big?

JDL: “One hundred million? Tell them to send me my cheque. My imagination is limitless with thoughts, ideas etc, so with that in mind, I guess I have so much more to achieve creatively and financially.

“I am always looking for strategic financial partners.”

ND: You are one of the most down to earth people I know. How do you remain grounded given all the success you have realised over the past few decades?

JDL: “God”

ND: Is charity something that you feel strongly about and if so, how do you think you can inspire more people to do their part and help contribute to charity worldwide? What role does music have in charity awareness?

JDL: “Charity begins at home. I learned that a long time ago. There are so many philanthropic things that I personally want to do”.

ND: How do you feel about the continent of Africa and do you one day envisage hosting some of your shows or shooting a movie in Africa?

JDL: “That is like living with dad and someone asks you how you feel about mom. It is the motherland.  I love it.  Although I have never been, I want to go. I would love to do shows and shoot movies there.”

ND: Given your business acumen, I would like to know what you think of African business moguls like Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwean media tycoon Trevor Ncube and Dr Divine Ndlukula?

JDL: “I don’t know them personally, I only know of them, but I would love to do business with them.

“Strive, Dr Divine and Dangote are well known for their fortunes and business acumen while Trevor on the other hand, despite being an astute businessman himself mainly stands out for being a media innovator and global thought leader”.

ND: Danai Gurira is a global sensation mostly known for her roles in Avengers Endgame, Black Panther and The Walking Dead. Thandie Newton is mostly known for her award-winning roles in Mission Impossible and Norbit. Both these actresses hail from Zimbabwe. What do you think about them?

JDL: “I am a fan of Danai and Thandie’s work. They are both super talented and I wish them continued success.

“I would absolutely love to work with them provided the opportunity presents itself.”

  • Follow us on Twitter @NewsDayZimbabwe

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Africa CDC warns possible new Covid variant amid spike in new cases – Social News XYZ

Africa CDC warns possible new Covid variant amid spike in new cases

Addis Ababa, May 20 (SocialNews.XYZ) There is a possibility that a new Covid variant would emerge in Africa in a foreseeable future, Ahmed Ogwell, the acting director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), has warned.

“The increase is a clear sign that there is (a) high possibility a new variant, which is more transmissible, is to appear,” Ogwell said during a weekly briefing Thursday.

According to figures from the Africa CDC, the African continent has seen a 36 per cent average increase of new COVID-19 cases over the past four weeks, with Central and Eastern Africa regions reporting increasing new COVID-19 cases by 113 and 54 per cent, respectively, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, called for increased testing to locate which part of the continent the new variant would be appearing in.

“We need to do more testing and sequencing so that we can be able to understand where the outbreaks are and identify what variant is emerging,” Ogwell said.

He also called for an enhanced vaccination rollout to sustainably address low vaccination service against the pandemic across the continent. “We are distinctively seeing increasing deaths due to the pandemic as cases are surging over the last four weeks.”

Five African countries reported the highest numbers of newly confirmed Covid cases over the last one week with South Africa reporting 50,404 cases, Tanzania 1,482, Namibia 1,054, Zimbabwe 910 and Burundi 817 cases, according to the acting director.

Source: IANS

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About Gopi

Gopi Adusumilli is a Programmer. He is the editor of SocialNews.XYZ and President of AGK Fire Inc.

He enjoys designing websites, developing mobile applications and publishing news articles on current events from various authenticated news sources.

When it comes to writing he likes to write about current world politics and Indian Movies. His future plans include developing SocialNews.XYZ into a News website that has no bias or judgment towards any.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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African scientists and technology could drive future black hole discoveries – NewsDay

Roger Deane/Iniyan Natarajan
ASTRONOMERS have revealed the first image of the black hole at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The image was produced by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, an international team made up of over 300 scientists on five continents — including Africa.

Black holes were predicted by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity over a century ago. They are regions of space so dense that nothing, including light, can escape. Their boundary is known as the event horizon, which marks the point of no return. That’s just one of the reasons these objects are hidden from our eyes. The other is that they are exceedingly small, when placed in their cosmic context. If our Milky Way galaxy were the size of a soccer field, its black hole event horizon would be a million times smaller than a pin prick at centrefield.

How, then, can one photograph them? Our team did so by capturing light from the hot swirling gas in the immediate vicinity of the black hole. This light, with a wavelength of 1 millimetre, is recorded by a global network of antennas that form a single, Earth-size virtual telescope.

The light looks rather like a ring, a characteristic signature that is the direct consequence of two key processes. First, the black hole is so dense that it bends the path of light near it. Second, it captures light that strays too close to the event horizon. The combined effect produces a so-called black hole shadow — a brightened ring surrounding a distinct deficit of light centred on the black hole. In the case of our Milky Way black hole, this ring has the apparent size of a doughnut on the moon, requiring an extraordinary engineering effort to bring it into focus.

The unveiling of an image of our black hole, Sagittarius A*, is not just a massive moment for science. It could also be an important catalyst for diversifying African astrophysics research using existing strengths. We were the only two of more than 300 EHT team members based on the African continent. The continent doesn’t host any EHT telescopes — we were brought on board because of the expertise we have developed in preparation for the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), to be co-hosted by South Africa and Australia.

Why the image is important

This is not the first time a black hole image has captured people’s attention. We were also members of the team that captured the first ever image of a black hole in 2019 (this one is at the centre of a different galaxy, Messier 87, which is 55 million light years away). It has been estimated that more than 4,5 billion people saw that image. Sagittarius A* has also dominated headlines and captured people’s imaginations.

But there’s more to this result than just an incredible image. A plethora of rich scientific results has been described in ten publications by the team. Here are three of our primary highlights.

First, the image is a remarkable validation of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The EHT has now imaged two black holes with masses that differ by a factor of over 1 000. Despite the dramatic difference in mass, the measured size and shape are consistent with theoretical predictions.

Second, we have now imaged black holes with very different environments. A wealth of prior research over the past two or three decades shows strong empirical evidence that galaxies and their black holes co-evolve over cosmic time, despite their completely disparate sizes. By zooming into the event horizon of black holes in giant galaxies like M87, as well as more typical galaxies like our own Milky Way, we learn more about how this seemingly implausible relationship between the black hole and its host galaxy plays out.

Third, the image provides us with new insights on the central black hole in our own galactic home. It is the nearest such beast to Earth, so it provides a unique laboratory to understand this interplay — not unlike scrutinising a tree in your own garden to better understand the forests on the distant horizon.

Southern Africa’s geographic advantage

We are proud to be part of the team that produced the first black hole images. In future, we believe South Africa, and the African continent more broadly (including a joint Dutch-Namibian initiative), could play a critical role in making the first black hole

As has been the case with the country’s key role in paleoanthropology, there are contributions to global astronomy that can only be made from South African soil. Sagittarius A* lies in the southern sky, passing directly above South Africa. That is a major reason this image of the Milky Way’s centre, taken by the MeerKAT (a precursor to the SKA) is the best there is.

South Africa also has well-established infrastructure at its astronomical sites, which are protected by legislation. And it has world-class engineers at the forefront of their craft. This makes for low-cost, high-performance telescopes delivered on time and to budget.

New technology is also on our side: a cutting-edge simultaneous multi-frequency receiver design, pioneered by our Korean colleagues, means that EHT sites no longer need to be the most pristine, high-altitude locations on Earth.

All the elements are in place for a dramatic increase in the number of young Africans who participate in this new era of black hole imaging and precision tests of gravity. In the coming years, we hope to be writing about findings that couldn’t have been made without technology on South African soil, as well as African scientists leading high-impact, high-visibility EHT science in synergy with our multi-wavelength astronomy and high-energy astrophysics programmes.

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