Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Wig Stand glams up Christmas!


Charity and Glam. 
What better combination to gear up for the Holidays season?

One Wig Stand is giving all the ladies in Lebanon an opportunity to grab one of the few remaining creations that were designed for Bras for a Cause.  

Hold on.

If you've been meditating in some far away mountain or held captive in a cave by a hungry bear; which are the only two reasonable reasons not to have heard of Bras for a Cause, you are hereby pardoned. After all, 'tis the season to be forgiving. 

Just make sure you get up to speed with the Middle East's biggest Fashion Meets Goodwill event of the year, at least before 2011 ends. And why not, be part of it! 

So redeem yourself properly and pay One Wig Stand a visit tomorrow December 21 or the day after, that is December 22; just being thorough so there's no misunderstanding when you're marking your calendar.

Not only will you meet fantastic people, but you'll also have lots of fun. That's a guarantee. Here's a taste of what awaits you at this year's Christmas Bra-Zaar:

  • Shop for bras in a cozy girlie-girl gathering with nice music, munchies, drinks and other little festive surprises. Chocolate truffles, mini-cupcakes and cookies for all!

  • BRA PRICES AND SIZES: prices are very affordable and range between $18-30. Various sizes available for B to D cups

  • Full proceeds of all bra sales will be donated to regional breast cancer organizations as part of the large-scale Bras for a Cause campaign. 

  • MASTECTOMY BRAS: We'll also be selling mastectomy bras if you know someone who needs one. Trust us, they'll love the sexy designs with comfortable and discreet prosthesis pockets. 

  • BRA FITTINGS: K-Lynn Lingerie Specialist Tiffany Karam Youssef will be available at the event to help with bra fittings for anyone interested to get the right size and suggestions for the optimal bra for your body. Every person who gets fitted will additionally get a 20% discount card for their next K-Lynn Lingerie purchase! 

  • OPENING HOURS: Wednesday Dec. 21: 3-9 pm and Thursday Dec. 22: 3-9 pm. Pass by any time - it'll be open house! We'll have a fitting room area for anyone who wants to try the bras before purchasing. 

  • WHERE'S IT HAPPENING? One Wig Stand office in Achrafieh, Lebanon, right next to ABC Ashrafieh if you're driving up from Spinneys. Feel free to call 01-203112 for additional directions.

  • VOLUNTEERS OR COLLABORATIONS: Want to help out? Have some creative ideas to make this an even more fun, memorable night? Email OneWigStand@gmail.com.     

And here are your Bookmarks for more Holidays Shopping, with a heart:

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Opening the Gate


This year, Dubai has seen remarkable Lebanese productions shine at its annual International Film Festival which is wrapping tomorrow, December 14. (Feeling very proud).

And I have had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of Gate #5 by Simon El Habre (I honestly have Ruba and Simon to thank for that)

Photo: R. Abouzeid

It is always something special to enjoy documentaries at large venues. It gives me some sense of pride, inside. To be able to sit and watch an unusual and counter-mainstream film, moreover a documentary, at one of the busiest theaters in town; well, it feels good.

And I was not disappointed by the story either. Far from it.

Documentaries are a difficult genre. They do not appeal to all audiences. But lately, there has been a rise of outstanding filmmakers worldwide who are turning this under-appreciated art into what making films is all about: sharing. Sharing with all sorts of people. Sharing with those who never thought they could ever even cross paths. Sharing.

And this is exactly what Simon El Habre did with Gate #5. The inspiration behind this whole project being his own father, and featuring both of them in intimate, yet always beautifully set confessions; it cannot get more "Sharing" than that. In a nutshell, the filmmaker is allowing us inside private family moments. 

Photo: Gate #5

The rhythm of the film itself slowly becomes orchestrated by this intimacy. At first it is just the heavy breathing of this aging man that resonates like a loud heartbeat in between scenes, subtly underlining the thread that connects all the stories together. And at other times, it is the sound of his dialysis machine, cruelly following that same beat, that sustains this audio-storyline in a smooth, endless continuation. Just like life. Just like the protagonist's life. 

But this aging man, sick and yet always optimistic, is nothing but the inspiration behind the documentary. El Habre moves on to expand from that small circle of memories through the Gate that controlled his father's life at one point. A gate that controlled many lives back then. And still does today. Once the Gate opens, the people open up as well. And the story begins. A story of men. A story of Lebanon. And life. A beautiful story. 

Yet, it is an unsettling gate that the filmmaker chooses to open in his first scene. The disturbing images of cattle being pushed and shoved out from one narrow box to another, fear and pain overflowing from their eyes as they pass that gate and step onto the truck that will undoubtedly drive them to their end put us all on edge in our comfortable theater seats.

One thing is for sure, El Habre got our attention from the first shot.We knew right then, this would not be a regular film. And although they were selling pop corn and sodas outside, we understood: this was no pop corn movie.

It would not be one of those "tedious" documentaries either. Clearly, the conventional archives, voice over and interview style was as far from us as it could be. 

It would be cinematographic instead. The images would speak when the people or the filmmaker could or would not. 

Indeed, and moving on from those shocking opening moments, and as if thanking us for being there and attentive, El Habre takes us for a drive on the beautiful mountains of Lebanon, through the powerful eye of cinematographer Bassem Fayad. Almost forgetting we were about to watch a documentary. Simple beauty on a big, big screen. It felt like cinema. It felt like Lebanon. And I missed it so much all of a sudden.

Photo: Gate #5

That is probably the key winning touch of this film. It is personal. And it gets personal to the viewers too. Unavoidably. 

It is the story of certain men. Yet, all of us can relate. 

The story takes place at a certain point in time, and with Lebanon, it usually implies the war will be somewhere in that timeframe. Yet, it is not an narrative recount of those years. 

The story happens in old Beirut. Yet, it is not images, and archives, and black and white footage of that era. 

(And thank you so much for sparing us those overused and abused videos and photos which are just about everywhere as if every artwork should serve as public service announcement for the ministry of tourism!)

The story is human. And through these humans, we see the past. As it was. Unedited memories of what real life used to be. No voice over. No script. No interview. Just regular, ordinary chats. 

Photo: Gate #5

These men talk to each other, or the filmmaker, casually. Simply. As if no camera was there. As if they were having one of their daily informal discussions over coffee. Because this is what these men do every day. They remember. They talk. They reminisce about their golden years. That day, they just happened to be recorded while doing so. 

We know these men. Not them particularly, but others just like them. That is how we know these moments in the film are genuine. That is how we know this movie speaks a truth. Maybe not the Truth. Maybe some even take pleasure in storytelling and embellishing a little. Just like those other men we know and we have listened to before. At our family dinners. In a cab. At an old coffee shop.  

And that is why this film speaks to us. At a personal level.

By the end, I could not help but lean towards my husband and whisper: "you know next time we're in Beirut and you have one of your drinks with your dad, just take the camera and record". He is always saying something. They all are. 

And the fact that Gate #5 inspired us to actually pick up a camera and listen is the plain proof that this film works. That it achieved its purpose. That it created something, beyond that theater, even after those end credits rolled on that big screen. That it touched real people. And that it affected real life. 

Q and A with Simon El Habre following the screening
Photo: R. Abouzeid

Useful references and sites:

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Special gift with ❤


'Tis the Season to be jolly...
And to make a jollier world for those around us.
Especially children. 

So today I am adding to my Christmas Wish List a very "Special One": the Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon.

I have nothing but respect and the utmost admiration for the people who work there, and for the Center itself. Its purpose is to provide quality healthcare to children with cancer, completely free of charge. And unlike many (if not all?) other charitable organizations in the country, the Center welcomes patients from all walks of life, and most importantly from all religions.

Every year, the CCCL creates amazing gifts with meaning, and this season is no exception.

Fighting cancer is without a doubt one of the most difficult (and sometimes tragic) battles anyone might have to endure. Like many if not all tragedies, it is not one we choose. But it is not one we can avoid either. It could hit anyone. Sadly, I can attest to that. And to the excessive devastation it leaves behind.

Relatives and friends from all ages have left us too soon. It is in their honor and in the name of those still struggling that I ask you to take the time to support the CCCL in any way or form suitable to you.

I know two children undergoing treatment there. Not because I took the time to volunteer, I only wish. But simply because cancer can indeed hit the people you least expect to be sick. Young, bright, beautiful people. With life and an exciting future ahead. And who suddenly find themselves sinking in pain and battling a war no one, especially not children, should have to fight.

But they do. And with the help of the CCCL, they have a chance. An opportunity to take back what is theirs. To claim back their future. To claim back their lives. To survive and go on.

I also know for a fact that treatment at the CCCL is completely free of charge for all, which makes our support all the more important and consequential.

So please, take the time to check the Helping Hands Friendship Band collection and I am certain you will agree it is indeed a meaningful gesture that combines both the spirit of the CCCL and beauty. But more significantly, it is an immediate action in support of children in need.

I have already gotten one from a previous year's collection and I can assure you it puts a warm smile on the face of the person who receives it. Not only was it a lovely gift to wear but it also meant a donation was made in her name and she contributed in some way, no matter how small.

Other beautiful gifts can be found on the CCCL Merchandize page.

You could also make a monetary donation to the Center directly through traditional fundraising means or the online donation site which I have already used, and can confirm all transactions are completely safe.

May you and your loved ones have a wonderful holidays' season and a long, beautiful life filled with love, kindness and most importantly good health ❤

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