Saturday, December 31, 2005

Article on my visit in Yemen Observer

It seems that Kidz Online's visit to Yemen has caught the attention of the local Yemeni press.

Here is the article from the Yemen Observer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A picture i took of a jordanian director flying


Jordanian director, Amin Matalqa, displays his non-existant martial art skills on the rooftop of a building in downtown Amman.

This must be one of my favorite shots ever.

A day downtown- Pictures from Amman


Today's weather proved perfect for a photography round in downtown Amman.
Here are some of the results.

Click on the picture above to view the set.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

More pictures from my adventures in Yemen


After going through the 400+ pictures I took while I was in yemen, I decided to post a number of my favorties.

Click here to view the pictures.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Back in Amman

After a long and tiring but interesting and eventfull two weeks of travels. I have come back home to amman for some more work, and a bit of a break. There is a lot to do, many friends and family to see, stories to share about yemen, beirut and dubai, and hopefully just a tiny bit of rest.

Shibs Bibs Canaaary!!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2005

My first apperance on a podcast

I got interviewed for the Digital Production Buzz, an online radioshow-podcast that focuses on digital productions, and i got to report on the dubai international film festival.

You can get hear the interview here

I come in at around the 30th minute.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dubai Film Festival Day One Films

On the first day of the Dubai International film festival, I got to watch three films. By the end of the day, my head was just a mix of shots and cuts and film plots. I started the day with watching the acclaimed Palestinian film, “Paradise Now” which actually was the opening film for this year’s festival. The film, which is masterfully directed by Hani Abu-As’ad, looks into the last 48 hours of the life of two suicide bombers from Nablus.
I have seen the film in Los Angeles, and I wanted to see it again to take a closer look at what made this film so good. After hearing the director speak earlier this morning, I came to realize that it’s the simplicity and non-artificial environment and characters that the director has put on the screen. The film actually has no music in it, and after asking the director about that choice, he said that he didn’t want to add any artificial stimulants for the audience.

The second film I watched was “Bab Al-Web” an Algerian/French co-production which talks about the story of a young Algerian guy ( Faudel) who spends much of his time in an internet café, chatting to people all around the world. He finds out one day that a girl he had jokingly invited to Algeria, has decided to come for a week. The film takes us through a variety of situations and plots from him preparing for her arrival, to dealing with her being a guest with his family.
The film was light and enjoyable, and provided many laughs. Yet on a deeper level it dealt with the dream of many Arab youth of leaving their countries to Europe. An enjoyable film overall.

The third film of the first night was he French film “Cache ( Hidden)” in which Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche play a couple who are terrorized by the videotapes and violent drawings left anonymously outside their door.
The film was long and slow, extremely lengthy shots were used throughout the film, and I just had a feeling that the whole thing dragged. It may also be that I was so tired by the end of the day. Yet I have to say that the acting was impressive and the film had its moments. Its just that I wouldn’t watch this film again.

This is the summary of day one so far.

Dubai is great so far, the mall where most of the films are playing is huuuuuge, my feet hurt from walking around between films. One could literally just get a workout from shopping here. Other than that, I bumped into 5 people I knew from school in the past 2 days, it is like a mini amman here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Live from the Dubai International Film Festival

I am currently in Dubai to attend the international film festival. I will try in the next couple of days to post some reviews and pictures of what i see here in the next week.

To start out with here are pictures of Algerian Rai singer/actor Faudel, whose film Bab Al-Web is playing tonight. In addition to that a picture of the all time favorite syrian actor Dureid Laham


Dureid Laham

Me with Faudel

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Yemen Diaries-2

My two trips in Yemen have been to a city in the south of San’a called Ibb, while the other one was to Al-Hijja more towards the west of san’a. The work I was doing there was focused on combating child labor and its effects on kids leaving school.

What I saw there was quite sad. Sending a student to school for a full year costs less than 15 dollars, yet many students are forced to leave school because they do not have the proper uniform, or couldn’t afford the books or the stationary. While many others can’t even think about school since the livelihood of their families depend on them . The first school I visited in Ibb was in a very bad condition, yet the kids were so full of life. I have to say, I have not yet experienced a people who love to be photographed like the people of yemen.

The work that is being done there to combat child labour and kids dropping out of school is impressive and is being led by a local non-profit, and they are very passionate about what they do, and also are actually implementing their schemes and the results are already being felt.

On the way back from Ibb, which has wonderful scenery, we stopped at Um Salah’s house/restaurant. The food was incredible. I can’t say more than that.

The night in Sana’a was quick and we were out early next day to Al-Hijja, a city on some serious mountains. The roads are small and winding and the drivers are crazy, so I was happy that we got there safely. The school was in a much better condition than the one in Ibb, and I got some shots on the way. Al-Hijja is also known for its quality Qat…no comment.

Anyways, the memories in Yemen are some of my best, the people are wonderful, the souks have such a simple yet authentic feel and are full of life, the hospitality is incomparable, and riding the Hilux pickup for over 24 hours in 3 days was priceless.

Yemen Diaries-1

These following entries have been written on the trip. I just got good internet access, so I am posting them as wirtten.

It’s 5:13 Am, San’a local time, and I felt its time to start my first entry about my trip to Yemen. I woke up to the sound of the fajr azan (call to prayer) something I don’t hear in Hollywood, other than that which goes off from my bedside alarm. I am currently in a hotel called Shimmar, and it feels like I am at my grandfather’s house in Karak. Actually it’s the same feeling I felt yesterday when I was in a city in the south of San’a , called Ibb.

The trip to Yemen from los angeles took about two days. Me and my colleague from work, went into LAX on the 1st of Dec, and we came out of San’a airport on the 3rd. Our flight took us from Los Angeles to London, London to Dubai, Dubai to San’a, and with all the waits and layovers I think it totaled about 33 hours. The trip was not too bad in general, until we got a small shakeup towards our descend to the runway in Yemen. The pilot was either approaching it too quick, or the landing gear wasn’t working right, so as we got very close to touching the runway, the pilot pulled the plane up really quick, and we were back in the air, did one more circle above San’a and then landed safely.

I don’t know if I should talk about San’a airport or if I should leave for you to experience it. But the sound level was very similar to that of a vegetable market, and it was so dim, and I found out that as a Jordanian you actually don’t need a visa to Yemen, which is quite the opposite of what the Yemeni embassy had told me. The passport officer gave me a very strange and unapproving look when he found the Yemeni visa, and he proceeded to give me a lecture about Arab brotherhood and how we as Jordanians are Yemenis in Yemen. Good to know for next time. As for my American friend, he had to wait forever to get his visa.

Eventually we were out of the airport, found our driver and headed to the office we were supposed to meet in. From there I requested we go to Bab Al-Yemen, and Souk Al-Milh, the famous old souk in old San’a. We had a quick hour there, and I can’t even start to describe how amazing this place was. I’ll have to let the pictures speak for themselves. All I have to say that the people were very warm, especially when they found out I am a Jordanian. I guess they aren’t too used to seeing Jordanians with big cameras, since I was being always asked “ What your name?” and told that I am “ Wilcam Wilcam,” which quickly changed to some embraces when my reply was “ Ya hayallah, keef al hal?” Which was always followed with offerings of tea, coffee, and Qat.

From there we went and met with Dr. Jamal, who is heading the project we are working on, and we had a quick but amazing lunch in San’a and started our 4 hour trip to Ibb. Our mode of transportation was the Arabian favorite , Hilux pickup ( aka : Layla 3ilwi), 5 people crammed in it, with equipment and all. Since it was getting dark, we didn’t get to see much of the road, but we got to Ibb in the evening, checked into the Ibb Taj hotel, had dinner, and sat down and chatted. By now the group consisted of myself, Dr. Jamal, our driver Ali, Brendan my Kidz online colleague and Oren, an American photographer.

Our work starts tomorrow, we have three school visits and I am sure its going to be quite an interesting experience.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Survived Yemen, now Beirut, in dubai on friday

Yemen was amazing
Lunch in Amman was fun
Lebanon's Internet sucks
Dubai on Friday

A lot of stories and pictures to come

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ibn Batuta Al-Majali

As the famous american poet said
كل الشناطي مظبوبوة و انا جهاز للسفر
و قاعد استنى هان قدام بابكي

All my bags are packed , im ready to go

In a bit i start a long and interesting trip. I head to Yemen first, and it is going to take me 2 days to get there. I will be in a place called Ibb, then back to San'a. After Yemen, it's Beirut for 3 days, Dubai for 10 for the Int'l film festival there. Jordan follows for the break. And finally on the way back to L.A next year, London and Paris are two of my stops.

I don't know if i'll blog from yemen, but i'll try to post some pics once i get to Liban.

Keep watching the bataranzi blog for some writings about my Adventures.

Also, if i get kidnapped in Yemen.........