With a touch of the screen, fat bunny bounces his way up the vibrantly colored mountain terrain, munching on the occasional carrot. Press too long or too little, however, and splat goes bunny into the mountainside – game over.
Like many mobile games, Fat Bunny’s concept is simple, yet its gameplay addictive. It was launched in its beta version on March 20, the first offering of Lebanese game studio Groovy Antoid, who, along with another Lebanese newcomer, Van Ahmar, were selected as part of a piloted partnership between the startup accelerator Speed@BDD and Arab Arcade, a self-described community initiative.
Philippe Aractingi is a French-Lebanese director and producer, with over 30 years of experience in the film industry. Through his beginnings in war photography, he began recording the world around him, directing his first documentary at age 21. He has filmed subjects across the globe; from giraffes in South Africa to archeology in Sri Lanka.
Aractingi’s feature films, Bosta (2005), Under the Bombs (2008) and Héritages (2013) earned the director critical acclaim. His latest, Listen (2017), has just been released and explores the lighter themes of sound and love.
Listen, your latest feature film based in Lebanon, is out in cinemas now. What can you tell us about it?
It is a poetic story about love, fidelity and sound. I purposely chose this subject because we are surrounded by hatred and war; it is a form of resistance to speak of love in the current Lebanese and Middle Eastern climate.
Lebanon Traveler meets filmmaker Philippe Aractingi at his production studio’s premises in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Badaro. The Lebanese director shares his memories of growing up in Beirut and how the city’s chaos can be a catalyst for creativity.
To the newcomer, navigating Beirut can seem daunting. The city, chaotic and changeable, can be a challenge to get around. Finding the offices of Lebanese filmmaker Philippe Aractingi was a timely reminder of that.
The smile hasn’t left the face of Animals Lebanon Director Jason Mier since it was announced Wednesday that the organization’s animal welfare bill had been approved by the Cabinet after over three years of campaigning.
“So much time and resources, by so many good people, and the outcome is exactly what we hoped for,” Mier tells The Daily Star.
When you cross the Beirut River and enter the municipality of Burj Hammoud it seems like another city entirely. Whether you walk down the main promenade, taking in the sights and smells of the famous basterma (pastrami) restaurants, or get lost in the maze of streets selling every kind of artisanal product, Burj Hammoud is distinctly one thing: Armenian. Lebanon is home to around 230,000 persons of Armenian descent, the sixth largest Armenian population outside Armenia worldwide. They came at the beginning of the 20th century, refugees from the Medz Yeghern (Armenian for “the Great Crime”) – the systematic extermination of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population – disputed as genocide in modern day Turkey, but accepted as such by a growing number of states and individuals worldwide.
A veteran Al-Jazeera correspondent has been arrested in Amman, Jordan, for refusing to give up custody of her 5-year-old daughter.
Eight hours ago, Rula Amin, posted the news of her arrest with the following tweet: “#rula amin being arrested by police in amman demanding I give up my 5 year old daughter.” There has been no further correspondence from Amin.
Speaking to The Daily Star, a colleague and close friend of Amin, Mysa Khalaf, said Amin was being held in a woman’s detention center in Amman but had not yet been charged.
A hacking suite for governmental interception, right at your fingertips. That is how Italy-based spyware company Hacking Team describes its Galileo Remote Control System, billed as a way to “bypass encryption, collect relevant data out of any device and keep monitoring your targets wherever they are, even outside your monitoring domain.” In a twist of irony, HT was itself the victim of a mass hack in July. Termed a “corporate enemy of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders in 2013, the company had repeatedly denied selling its products to repressive regimes. Entrepreneurial hackers, unsatisfied with these denials, resorted to dumping a treasure trove of 400 GBs worth of data onto the company’s own Twitter feed – renamed “Hacked Team.”
In among these leaks was correspondence with the intelligence branch of the Lebanese Army, General Security and the Cyber Crimes and Intellectual Properties Bureau – all seeking to purchase Galileo.
The sound of crickets drowned out all other noise as The Daily Star watched as a procession of Sukleen trucks and unmarked pickups filled with sand weaving their way down a mountain path to a makeshift dump at the top of the River Valley on Broummana’s outskirts.
Concerned residents, watching from their homes overlooking the valley, said the garbage dump began two weeks ago Friday, first with nondescript trucks and then with Sukleen.
Sitting outside a coffee shop in Sassine, Ziad gestures to himself and says, “Look at me. Who could guess I like to whip women? ”
It’s a fair question, like other members of the clandestine Lebanese BDSM community with whom the Daily Star spoke, Ziad comes across as an average, middle-aged guy, the kind you’d expect to see at the office or chain smoking in a cafe. Human sexuality comes up in ordinary conversation often, but BDSM – an umbrella term for bondage, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism – is not a sexual preference many understand.
Burnt out camp in Arsal, Lebanon (August 2014). Picture courtesy of Maggie Tookey
Cut off from the rest of Lebanon and accessible by just one road is Arsal, the battle front with ISIS of which you’ve probably never heard.
Largely abandoned by the Lebanese state, the north eastern town on the border with Syria has had to absorb, at a low estimate, over 80,000 Syrian refugees into its population of just 35,000.
At the height of its security problems, when all other aid groups had pulled out over safety fears, it was a small, volunteer-run Scottish charity, Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA) that was first on the scene.