Japanese actress Kaori Momoi. The film world of Asia is too busy making movies of its own to fret much about the debate slamming Hollywood - the casting of white people in roles written for Asians. Momoi, who appeared in Memoirs of a Geisha, as well as Russian filmmaker Aleksandr Sokurov's The Sun‚ suggested acting was ultimately about individual talent, not skin color or nationality. AP Photo / Andrew Medichini
Japanese actress Kaori Momoi. The film world of Asia is too busy making movies of its own to fret much about the debate slamming Hollywood - the casting of white people in roles written for Asians. MoShow more

Asian actors too busy to fret over Hollywood ‘white-washing’



The film world of Asia, known for producing Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Brillante Mendoza and other greats, is too busy making movies of its own to fret much about the debate slamming Hollywood – the casting of white people in roles written for Asians.

While hurt, irritated or dumbfounded perhaps about the so-called “whitewashing” syndrome, performers here aren’t expressing the level of outrage of a Margaret Cho, George Takei or other Americans.

Many shrugged off the phenomenon as inevitable, given commercial marketability needs, noting Asian films also cast well-known actors over and over.

Casting white people in non-white roles is as painfully old as Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu in American entertainment. That kind of monolithic casting continues – recently with the tapping of Tilda Swinton as a character that was originally Tibetan in the new Marvel Dr Strange movie.

It’s also a sensitive topic. South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun declined to be interviewed through his representative, who noted Lee was set to be in a Hollywood film.

Kaori Momoi, who appeared in Memoirs of a Geisha, as well as Russian filmmaker Aleksandr Sokurov's The Sun, suggested acting was ultimately about individual talent, not skin colour or nationality.

Momoi praised the devotion, skill and professionalism of Scarlett Johansson, whose starring in Ghost in the Shell, based on a Japanese manga, has stirred up an uproar as a prime example of "white-washing". Momoi played the mother of Johansson's character.

“I felt blessed to have worked with her,” she said, urging actors to be selective of the directors they choose to work with. “And so what’s fantastic is fantastic. What fails just fails.”

Like other actors with experience in Asia, Momoi saw Hollywood more as an opportunity. She was already a superstar in Japan when she started acting in movies abroad about a decade ago. What she enjoyed was the challenging novelty of it all, “getting away from being Kaori Momoi,” as she described it.

“Compared to Japan, there is so much potential and recognition in the United States for independent films,” said Momoi.

She got to know film people at international festivals, including Berlin, which showed “Fukushima, Mon Amour,” a film she was in. She has become a director herself, having two films to her credit, including “Hee,” being released later this year, in which she also gives a harrowing rendition of an ageing prostitute.

Claudia Kim, known in her native South Korea as Soo Hyun, noted she has been lucky to play independent Asian women in most movies, such as Dr Helen Cho in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the 2015 movie based on Marvel comics.

But she was baffled when she learnt a white actress was picked for the Asian role in a Hollywood movie she had auditioned for. She declined to identify that film.

“It is definitely not a pleasant experience,” she said, calling the choice “ridiculous”.

Vijay Varma, an India actor who starred in Monsoon Shootout, a crime story with multiple endings that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, pointed out insularity was prevalent in Bollywood as well.

Families dominate the business, although he was an exception and came from a family unrelated to movies. Bollywood counts on mass appeal, casting the “familiar”, just like Hollywood, he added.

When an effort that defies boundaries turns out to be a great movie, like Life of Pi, which starred an Indian actor, combined live action with computer graphics, and had a Taiwan-born director Ang Lee, "it feels really good", Varma said.

While some Japanese may wonder why Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi is the heroine in Memoirs of a Geisha, they also feel no qualms routinely casting Japanese to play Chinese and other non-Japanese Asian roles, feigning embarrassingly phoney accents and mannerisms.

Landing roles in Asian movies is relatively off-limits for Americans, usually relegated to blatantly "foreign" roles. Koji Fukada's Sayonara starred Bryerly Long, an American, as a dying woman in Japan, but the film also starred a humanoid robot as her loyal companion.

Gong Li, the star of Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou's films, such as Raise the Red Lantern, characterised the dilemma as a "problem of marketability".

“Asian culture has not meshed well with US film culture. It’s not integrated. There are a lot of American A-listers who are making movies in China right now, who have not done well. So it’s the same whether you cast a famous actor or not not-so famous one. Chinese people don’t know who they are,” she said as she walked the red carpet recently at Cannes.

Examples abound. Hollywood Adventures had an American setting and Chinese stars but was doomed by the stiff translation of English dialogue. Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen made the action fantasy Outcast for the Chinese market, where it flopped. Jackie Chan's Dragon Blade, co-starring Adrien Brody and John Cusack, was a hit in China, but its US showing failed to replicate the martial arts superstar's past Hollywood successes.

Matt Damon and director Zhang Yimou are hoping for a better reception in their upcoming science-fiction thriller The Great Wall.

And many performers in both places hope for a more multicultural future.

Respecting diversity in casting could lead not only to better films but also a better world, said Monisha Shiva, an Indian-American actress who has worked in both India and the US, and found the former to be more empowering.

“I was the centre. I was the story,” she said.

“The magic of acting is to give people visions and imagination, and imagine a different world. You want that. It’s important to use actors of colour,” said Shiva. “Art is to start to make new visions. And it’s a way to heal.”

* Associated Press

The 100 Best Novels in Translation
Boyd Tonkin, Galileo Press

Profile

Co-founders of the company: Vilhelm Hedberg and Ravi Bhusari

Launch year: In 2016 ekar launched and signed an agreement with Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi. In January 2017 ekar launched in Dubai in a partnership with the RTA.

Number of employees: Over 50

Financing stage: Series B currently being finalised

Investors: Series A - Audacia Capital 

Sector of operation: Transport

if you go

The flights Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, and Royal Jordanian all offer direct, three-and-a-half-hour flights from the UAE to the Jordanian capital Amman. Alternatively, from June Fly Dubai will offer a new direct service from Dubai to Aqaba in the south of the country. See the airlines’ respective sites for varying prices or search on reliable price-comparison site Skyscanner.

The trip 

Jamie Lafferty was a guest of the Jordan Tourist Board. For more information on adventure tourism in Jordan see Visit Jordan. A number of new and established tour companies offer the chance to go caving, rock-climbing, canyoning, and mountaineering in Jordan. Prices vary depending on how many activities you want to do and how many days you plan to stay in the country. Among the leaders are Terhaal, who offer a two-day canyoning trip from Dh845 per person. If you really want to push your limits, contact the Stronger Team. For a more trek-focused trip, KE Adventure offers an eight-day trip from Dh5,300 per person.

Greatest Royal Rumble match listing

50-man Royal Rumble - names entered so far include Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho, The New Day and Elias

Universal Championship Brock Lesnar (champion) v Roman Reigns in a steel cage match

WWE World Heavyweight ChampionshipAJ Styles (champion) v Shinsuke Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

United States Championship Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Bludgeon Brothers (champions) v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship (currently vacant) Cesaro and Sheamus v Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Casket match The Undertaker v Rusev

Singles match John Cena v Triple H

Cruiserweight Championship Cedric Alexander v Kalisto

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Founders: Ines Mena, Claudia Ribas, Simona Agolini, Nourhan Hassan and Therese Hundt

Date started: January 2017, app launched November 2017

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Private/Retail/Leisure

Number of Employees: 18 employees, including full-time and flexible workers

Funding stage and size: Seed round completed Q4 2019 - $1m raised

Funders: Oman Technology Fund, 500 Startups, Vision Ventures, Seedstars, Mindshift Capital, Delta Partners Ventures, with support from the OQAL Angel Investor Network and UAE Business Angels

Zayed Centre for Research

The Zayed Centre for Research is a partnership between Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and was made possible thanks to a generous £60 million gift in 2014 from Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation.

'Falling for Christmas'

Director: Janeen Damian

Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet, Jack Wagner, Aliana Lohan

Rating: 1/5

The biog

Family: He is the youngest of five brothers, of whom two are dentists. 

Celebrities he worked on: Fabio Canavaro, Lojain Omran, RedOne, Saber Al Rabai.

Where he works: Liberty Dental Clinic 

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 217hp at 5,750rpm

Torque: 300Nm at 1,900rpm

Transmission: eight-speed auto

Price: from Dh130,000

On sale: now

Turning waste into fuel

Average amount of biofuel produced at DIC factory every month: Approximately 106,000 litres

Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

Energy requirements for one cycle of production from 1,000 litres of used cooking oil:
▪ Electricity - 1.1904 units
▪ Water- 31 litres
▪ Diesel – 26.275 litres

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

List of officials:

Referees: Chris Broad, David Boon, Jeff Crowe, Andy Pycroft, Ranjan Madugalle and Richie Richardson.

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Kumara Dharmasena, Marais Erasmus, Chris Gaffaney, Ian Gould, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong, Bruce Oxenford, Ruchira Palliyaguruge, Sundaram Ravi, Paul Reiffel, Rod Tucker, Michael Gough, Joel Wilson and Paul Wilson.

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Dates for the diary

To mark Bodytree’s 10th anniversary, the coming season will be filled with celebratory activities:

  • September 21 Anyone interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor can sign up for a 250-hour course in Yoga Teacher Training with Jacquelene Sadek. It begins on September 21 and will take place over the course of six weekends.
  • October 18 to 21 International yoga instructor, Yogi Nora, will be visiting Bodytree and offering classes.
  • October 26 to November 4 International pilates instructor Courtney Miller will be on hand at the studio, offering classes.
  • November 9 Bodytree is hosting a party to celebrate turning 10, and everyone is invited. Expect a day full of free classes on the grounds of the studio.
  • December 11 Yogeswari, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher, will be visiting the studio.
  • February 2, 2018 Bodytree will host its 4th annual yoga market.
UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

THE BIO

Family: I have three siblings, one older brother (age 25) and two younger sisters, 20 and 13 

Favourite book: Asking for my favourite book has to be one of the hardest questions. However a current favourite would be Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier

Favourite place to travel to: Any walkable city. I also love nature and wildlife 

What do you love eating or cooking: I’m constantly in the kitchen. Ever since I changed the way I eat I enjoy choosing and creating what goes into my body. However, nothing can top home cooked food from my parents. 

Favorite place to go in the UAE: A quiet beach.

If you go

The Flights

Emirates and Etihad fly direct to Johannesburg from Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively. Economy return tickets cost from Dh2,650, including taxes.

The trip

Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays (worldwidemotorhomingholidays.co.uk) operates fly-drive motorhome holidays in eight destinations, including South Africa. Its 14-day Kruger and the Battlefields itinerary starts from Dh17,500, including campgrounds, excursions, unit hire and flights. Bobo Campers has a range of RVs for hire, including the 4-berth Discoverer 4 from Dh600 per day.

Rock in a Hard Place: Music and Mayhem in the Middle East
Orlando Crowcroft
Zed Books

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Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599