Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Earlier this month I was flown out to Qatar to perform at the first ever Doha Tribeca Film Festival - a joint partnership between the Qatar Museum Authority & Robert Deniro's world-famous Tribeca Film Festival. From start to finish - executive director to youngest intern - the organizers of this fabulous event did an incredible job putting every aspect of it together. I had a blast meeting Hollywood A-listers, mingling with the rising stars of Arab cinema, & reconnecting with many old friends who now call this booming Gulf city their home. Thanks to some wasta-connects on the staff who put in the recommendation, & a few Youtube clips which helped seal the deal, I was given the opportunity to do my Hip-Hop thing in front of hundreds of new faces at The W Hotel in Doha - one of my favorite hospitality chains & the very first in the Middle East!
Martin Scorcese delivered a speech at the intro luncheon ... I got a kick out of the arabic translator (standing to his left), whom rather than simply relay his sentiments in another language, took it upon herself to literally translate everything he said word for word - including all references to himself ... meaning, she would grab the mic after every other sentence and say "I Martin Scorcese am ... etc."
Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi!) answered some questions for a local journalist after lunch ... Apparently he & Scorcese had the same tailor - he just preferred a sim fit?
Legendary Egyptian comedic actor 3adel Imam strolled down the "red carpet" at the opening gala ... just seeing him made me crack up ... the look on his face was classic!
Fireworks lit up the sky behind the Museum of Islamic Art - designed by the one & only I. M. Pei ... The courtyard in this photo was modeled after the historic Ibn-Toloun mosque in Cairo, and provided a stunning backdrop (foredrop?) for the beautiful pyrotechnics display that evening.
On the second night of the festival, Maysoon Zayid & Dean Obeidallah did their side-splitting comedy thing on stage just before my performance (Spice Market Restaurant @ The W Hotel ) ... No better way to start the show than with two of Arab-America's funniest comics killin it for the Qatari crowd!
On the other side of the restaurant, my stage was set up between DJ Sam's (Doha's finest) turntables & the enormous open bar ... Took a few songs to warm folks up (& draw their attention away from the free booze), but once I did - it quickly became a night to remember. Shout-outs to the coolest Soori in Doha, Omar Chaikhouni in the corner of this pic ;)
"Throw ya hands in the airrr & wave em all around like you just dont carrre" ... Told you I got their attention ;)
The next evening I attended an open-air screening @ Souq Waqif of the 1969 Egyptian film "Al Momia" (The Mummy) - digitally remastered by Martin Scorcese's World Cinema Foundation. While many of the people in attendance fell asleep under the peaceful night sky, I was captivated by the struggle this film portrayed - does the protagonist allow the "effendiyah / city-people" (sound familiar?) to take the ancient sarcophagi of his ancestors ... or let his fellow tribesman rob & loot them to no end? ... I can understand why this is one of Marty's favorite flicks =)
During the last day of the DTFF, following a screening of the "Team Qatar " documentary, I was asked to participate in a mock-debate with Maysoon Zayid. We each had two local high-schoolers on our team leading the way & Dean Obeidallah served as the moderator. While the debaters on the other squad were certainly formidable opponents, they ultimately proved no match for my team (ain't that right Mr. Hubrack?) =P
On closing night, following an outdoor screening/premiere of "Cairo Time", the boys from DAM came through to rock the mic - representing for Lod & all of Palestine ... Since I recently recorded a track with Suhell about the Gaza massacre, he asked me to join him on stage to kick my verse ... I've had the good fortune of performing with these brothers several times over the past couple of years during their US tours & I can honestly say they get better & better every single time!
I had some final after-party fun with two of the best young Arab directors in the industry, Amin Matalqa (Jordan) & Ali Mostafa (UAE) ... Keep an eye out for their work on a silver screen near you!
One of my personal highlights of the festival was getting to know the beautiful & incredibly talented Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass ... Her role in the the DTFF Grand Prize Winning film "Pomegranates & Myrrh" (written/directed by the lovely Miss Najwa Najjar) was absolutely spellbinding ... She was funny, sharp, smart, strong, & caring - true to the character of most Falasteeni women I know!