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TIFF ’20: Mayye Zayed on making “Lift Like A Girl,” funding, COVID-19

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Filmmaker Mayye Zayed’s debut feature documentary, Lift Like A Girl, will have its world premiere at the 45th Toronto International Film Festival tomorrow (Sept. 12).

The 92-minute observational film follows 14-year-old Zebiba (Arabic for “raisin”), who has been training under famed weightlifting coach Captain Ramadan since she was nine.

At his roof-less, vacant training lot surrounded by chain-link fencing on a busy street corner in Alexandria, Egypt, Ramadan has coached female weightlifting champions for more than two decades – four Olympic, nine World and 17 Pan African champions.

Now, Zebiba follows in the footsteps of some of Egypt’s most famous athletes  – including the first Arab female, two-time Olympic medalist weightlifter, Abeer Abdel Rahman, and World Champion and Olympic athlete Nahla Ramadan, the Captain’s daughter.

TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey called Lift Like A Girl one of his “must see” films of the festival in blogTO. In an interview with Realscreen, TIFF documentary programmer Thom Powers said Zayed was among the emerging filmmakers he’s excited to introduce to audiences at this year’s digital-physical event.

A coproduction between Egypt, Germany and Denmark, Lift Like A Girl is produced by Zayed’s Cléo Media, based in Alexandria, Egypt, in association with Germany’s Jyoti Film and Zayed’s Rufy’s Films.

Anke Petersen and Anna Bolster are coproducers for Jyoti Film.

Lift Like A Girl is coproduced with ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel, with the support of The Arab Fund For Arts & Culture, Hot Docs Blue Ice Docs Fund, International Media Support, the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute and the Getty Images Array grant.

Other funders include Goethe Institute in Cairo, British Council in Egypt, Awesome Without Borders and Prince Claus Mobility Fund.

Realscreen talked with Zayed (pictured below) about the film, navigating COVID-19 and securing funding and distribution.

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This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

When did you start making the film, and what was the timeline?

The first time we started filming, or when we met Captain Ramadan, was in April 2014, and then we kept on filming until November 2018. Of course, after the first year, starting from 2015, we started to really [begin] production.

We didn’t have any money in the first two years of production. The first funding we received came in late 2016. I had to make this decision that I make the film no matter what, whether we receive funding or not. So we spent the first two years just going there, the DP (director of photography) and I… Sometimes we would have a second unit director and a second unit camera that I would be filming on.

I was also recording sound, so we were very minimal crew and that helped us in building a very close relationship with Zebiba, Captain Ramadan and the girls training. It lasted until November 2018, but we continued shooting after we started editing because, starting from 2016, we started to edit some of the scenes that we filmed just in order to apply to funds or grants… Then editing officially started in April 2018.

Has your journey in making this film been impacted in any way by COVID-19?

The sound design and sound mix is actually a collaboration between an Egyptian sound designer and a Danish sound designer. In October or November, the Danish sound designer came to Egypt to work with us on the film, and then the Egyptian sound designer and I traveled to Copenhagen in December to continue working. We decided to schedule another trip in March where we do the final mix… We had everything scheduled. I was even in Germany at that time, when Denmark closed the borders. That was just a day before we started the final mix.

Everything happened so fast… So all of a sudden I found myself in Germany realizing that Europe is closing the borders and I have to just go home. The trip to Denmark was canceled, and then I was lucky to be back on the last airplane, flying from Berlin to Cairo. I came back and I was in lockdown.

We had to work on the sound mix remotely. The same happened with color grading, which took place in Zurich, Switzerland. This was the first time for me to work remotely on the sound mix and the color grading but I’m happy that we did it and it was quite an experience.

Outside of that, what were some of the biggest challenges for you in making this film?

For me, the biggest challenge [was] the lack of funding at the beginning. But, after two years of really trying and knocking all the doors, we managed to have great partners on board. Each fund that we received really helped us a lot… We had to secure bits and pieces of it along the way.

It wasn’t easy navigating through all the funding opportunities in the documentary world because, at the end of the day, Egypt doesn’t have any funding for documentaries and the funding for documentaries in the Arab world is not that much. So that was the biggest challenge.

Other than that, of course, working on the film itself and developing the story was somehow challenging, because I didn’t know from where I should start. I started the experience with an open mind. I was really exploring how life will treat Zebiba.

You have directed and produced a doc short, Black Out, and worked on a feature documentary film, I Have A Picture, in addition to feature films and experimental projects. How has your previous work informed Lift like a Girl?

I basically kind of did everything because I really enjoy every aspect of filmmaking.

For me, in my previous short, which is really a project that lies between fiction and documentary and even experimental, I explored this way of storytelling and I felt that it is something that I really liked because I also don’t like films to be put in boxes — this is documentary, this is fiction. I like to explore the different aspects altogether. That affected the way I made Lift Like A Girl because it’s pure documentary. I didn’t influence any of those scenes in any way, it’s just observational. But I wanted to try to shoot the scenes and edit them the way a fiction film would be edited and shot.

The fact that I’ve worked as an editor and I worked as a cinematographer… I was always thinking how we can help the editor edit what we’re filming.

As a director, I believe you have to know about every aspect of film, because at the end of the day, it’s your vision.

What are your goals for the film following its premiere at TIFF? What are your distribution goals?

I think TIFF is such a great start, it’s such a great festival… I really want to take the film to as many people as possible, especially teenagers, because I think the story can inspire them to pursue their unconventional dreams, no matter what.

Also I think the film can open a discussion about gender equality, about stereotypes, about women and about gender bias in language, because it is something that you see in the film.

I’ve been working on an impact campaign for the last year with Good Pitch. In this campaign, we really want to take the film to schools, to youth centers, to gyms and take it to the audiences that don’t go to festivals, that don’t go to movie theaters, that cannot afford paying a ticket to watch a film in a movie theater, especially in Egypt or across the Arab region.

These are my hopes. I don’t know which one of them will come true, but I’ll do my best to do that.

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses

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When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack

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Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).

It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.

However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.

With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.

Choosing the Wrong Table

Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.

First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.

Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.

Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.

When to Hit and Stand

As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.

One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.

While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.

Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.

When to Split and Double

If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.

Click here to check the best tips on blackjack tournament strategies: https://extra.betamerica.com/casino-news/blackjack-tournaments-rules-strategy-and-where-to-find-them/

Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.

While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.

It is not recommended to split when:

  • You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
  • You are dealt two 9s
  • You are dealt two 5s
  • The dealer holds a 10 or picture card

It is best to split when:

  • You are dealt two 8s
  • You are dealt two aces
  • The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)

Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.

Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.

Conclusion

Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.

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Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students

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The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like. 

Who Are You?

Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.

Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:

  • What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
  • What do you like or hate most about yourself?
  • What is your greatest value in life?
  • What emotions do you express easily?
  • What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
  • Who you want to become in five years?
  • What is your major objective for next year?
  • Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
  • What motto do you try to live by?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?

Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.

Sentence Completion

Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:

  • Before I came to college, I was interested in…
  • When I was a child, I wanted to become…
  • The best moment I remember most about high school is…
  • My favorite pet is…
  • The things I value most are…
  • Five years from now I hope to be…
  • My greatest personality trait is…
  • My favorite subject at high school was…
  • If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
  • My greatest fear is…
  • After I graduate from college, I…

The Reception Line

You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • What motto do you try to follow?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What music do you like?
  • What is your favorite hobby?
  • Why did you choose this college?
  • What do you like about college life the most?

Take Sides

You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:

  • Watermelon or banana?
  • Sweat or bitter?
  • Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
  • Partying or hiking?
  • Listen or speak?
  • Rock or pop?
  • Morning or night?
  • Superman or Batman?
  • Robocop or Terminator?
  • Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
  • Los Angeles or New York?
  • Liberal or conservative?
  • American football or ice hockey?

My Most Embarrassing Moment

You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.

These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.

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