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.
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.
What Makes a Good Online Casino?
A quick search for an online casino will reveal hundreds of results. However, these casinos are not created equally. Some are better than others in many ways. That’s why you cannot settle for the first option that catches your eye. You need to do thorough research to ensure you settle for a casino that will give you a better experience – and some good money in the process.
So, what makes a good online casino?
The truth is that there are many reputable casinos online – and new ones keep popping up with each passing day. But the few bad ones spoil the name for the others. These casinos scam people. They are eager to make deposits but not keen to give players their money back, pay their affiliates, or even stick to their terms and conditions. These casinos – scam or rogue casinos – are exactly the types you want to avoid.
Unfortunately, most of these rogue casinos disguise as good ones. You might have a hard time telling them apart, especially if you are just getting started. To help you make an informed decision, here are some qualities that make a good online casino.
It does not feature in the blacklist
One of the easiest ways to tell a good casino from the bad ones is by looking at different online casino blacklists. Different reputable platforms always release yearly blacklists to protect casino players from gambling scams online. They put bad casinos on a list for everyone to see and ensure no one signs up to any of those casinos in the future. Since these sites differ, chances are you won’t find the same casinos on every blacklist. But the fact that a casino makes the list means they have one or more of these problems:
- Change terms
- Predatory terms
- Slow pay
- Unfair games
- Marketing spam
- Licensing and regulation
Choice of games
As a player, you’ll appreciate the choice of picking whichever game pleases you. That’s why you need a casino that offers more games. Browse around to find the casino games that the provider offers to see if it’s a good fit.
It’s fair, secure, and serious
As you may have noticed from above, many casinos end up on the blacklist for many reasons, including unfairness and security issues. Good online casinos use random number generator that determines the chances of winning. On top of that, they work with third parties to check the fairness of games. What’s more, these casinos display various certificates on their platforms, giving you further assurance that things are conducted fairly.
Has good customer service
You can tell a good casino by how their customer support team treats you when you send a request or inquire about something. They will be willing and happy to serve you. they will also have adequate knowledge to address your concerns and be available 24/7.
Accept your payment methods
A good casino accepts a wide range of payment options, ranging from online payment options to instant bank transfers and even credit card solutions. This allows you to use your preferred payment method and not feel locked out. Stay away from sites that provide limited payment options. Some of them fail to get approved by payment platforms, which by itself is a red flag.
Has a bonus offer
It’s easy to assume bonus offers and other incentives, especially if you are new to the game. However, you should work with a casino that provides a consistent bonus offer and not just a good welcome offer. You’ll need these bonuses even as an existing client. Moreover, the site should provide promotions without deposit, reload offers, and many free spins. Don’t feel limited. Many casino sites offer these bonuses, and if the one in question doesn’t, you might as well keep looking.
Free games and easy registration
As a newbie, the last thing you want is to sign up with a casino that doesn’t provide free games. You need to practice without having to deposit money or fear that you’ll lose money. Free games allow you to practice and be good before playing real money. Additionally, the casino should have a simple registration and easy account opening process. If it’s too complicated, then maybe it’s not the right casino for you.
How Las Vegas became the world’s casino capital
These days, it’s impossible to think of Las Vegas without the image of the lights on the strip and glamorous casinos coming to mind. But the Vegas we know of 2020 wasn’t always that way; and it took a long, long time to get its reputation for being the world’s casino capital. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and get to the root of how Las Vegas became the city that never sleeps.
A historical journey
It’s hard to believe these days, but the Las Vegas region was once an abundant marshland stock full of rich vegetation. That is, until the marsh receded, and the waters disappeared, transforming the landscape into a desert, with the trapped water underground sprouting life and forming an oasis.
It was during the 19th century that the explorer Antonio Armijo from Mexico foraged the way from New Mexico to California on the first commercial caravan. It was a member of the group, Rafael Rivera who rode west to find water and venture through the desert, setting his eyes upon Las Vegas Springs. Las Vegas was therefore named ‘the meadows’ after the grasses found growing there.
Years went on and both Mormon and Mexican settlers began to filter through. In 1890 it was decided by railroad developers that Las Vegas would serve as a spot along the San Pedro, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles railroad route as well as connecting to major cities along the Pacific Coast. From there on, Vegas boomed with stores, boarding houses and saloons popping up around the area. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas as we know it — with railroad workers and ranchers enjoying the gambling and drinking through illegal speakeasies and bootleg casinos operating despite the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910.
In 1931 gambling once again became legal in the state, with new casinos and showgirl venues opening up along Fremont Street to entertain the thousands of workers who flocked the city during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The first hotel, El Rancho Vegas, opened up in 1941 along Highway 91. Its success inspired others to open up their own hotels along the highway which would one day become the strip. Tourists began to flock to the city over the next few decades to enjoy the casino scene and see incredible artists like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra perform.
The birth of the mega resort
It was in 1966 the businessman Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel; this was followed by over a dozen more hotel purchases, pushing out the mobster-owned hotels that had previously dominated Las Vegas. The concept of the mega hotel came about in 1989 when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage as the first hotel resort in the city. By 1994, Las Vegas was the home of more than 86,000 hotel and motel rooms with 13 of the 20 largest mega resort hotels in the world. It was during this era that the Strip became populated with more hotels and casinos, with developments inspired by the iconic cities and countries of the globe including Egypt, Paris, New York and Rome.
Las Vegas in the 21st century
The Las Vegas of today is well and truly established as a home for entertainment and casinos — which remain the biggest source of income for the city. However, there’s no doubt that Vegas faces more competition than ever before from the virtual world, with more people than ever before opting to play at an online casino, rather than play in the old fashioned way, but Vegas will always have the advantage. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime trip that an online casino can’t replicate, but do the online equivalents help to increase interest in Vegas?
The bright lights of Vegas is attracting billions of dollars in investment as many try and get a slice of the revenue that the sector has to offer. During 2019 over 42.52 million people came to visit Las Vegas from all around the world. Domestically, it was shown to be the second most popular destination for U.S. traveller’s dream spots after New York.
These days, Las Vegas continues to thrive and be a source of entertainment for millions of visitors from around the world looking to experience what the city has to offer. With new generations becoming interested in casino games — and some incredible musical residencies continuing to be announced — Las Vegas surely will continue to be one best places to go for a unforgettable dream destination for many.
What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at casinos in Canada, including table games, slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games. There are also many poker and blackjack tournaments held throughout the year and it is easy to find jackpots or slots with free spins at the casinos. Many casinos also have hotels, bars, and numerous restaurants which are perfect for players seeking some comfort. A relaxing casino experience for all ages can be found in many different places in Canada. Choose one from below.
Choosing a casino depends on your tastes and location within Canada. Do you want to experience the grandeur and splendour of nature while placing a bet? Then head to Niagara Falls. Do you want to see a show? Choose a casino with a show that will be perfect for you. If you are looking for pure relaxation, then check out some of the casinos with spas and world-class dining. Entertainment is also a large part of the casino experience in Canada. Musicians, bands, comedians, and other types of entertainment continue to be found at all of the biggest casinos.
Some Big Casinos Near Nature
Casino Niagara is located in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the world. People from all around the globe come to experience the best of both worlds at Casino Niagara. Players have access to beauty and scenery while spending time at one of the biggest casinos in Canada. The casino has two floors with over 1200 slot machines, poker, and other table games. There are also many different restaurants and even a comedy club. The sports bar and casino was refurbished back in 2017, meaning that it has not lost any of its charm and shine.
ST Eugene Golf Resort: Casino of the Rockies is a golf and nature lovers’ paradise. The location could not be any more splendid. People can find the casino between the Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Furthermore, the casino has an interesting history after it was converted from an Indian Residential School. It was then opened in the early 2000s. St Eugene has table games, electronic roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. There is also a golf course, restaurant, bar, spa, and hotel that is highly rated in Canada. Overall games are limited so most people come for golfing and betting fun.
Caesars Windsor is famously located on the riverbank in Windsor, Ontario. Visitors from both Canada and the States frequent the casino and hotel. Players can see the Detroit and Michigan skyline from the area. There are two floors of slots, table games, and plenty of poker tables. Blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are also available at the casino. It has beautiful restaurants, a gym, bars, slots, and live sports. Check out the Titan 360™, a 10-foot tall slot machine with 5800 pounds of wins at the click of a button. It’s the largest slot machine in the world and great fun.
- Enjoy the size of Casino de Montreal and Hard Rock Casino
- Enjoy the big and beautiful Casino Niagara or ST Eugene Golf Resort
- Enjoy High Culture at Elements Casino Brantford
River Rock Casino Resort – In Transit
Are you passing through Vancouver Airport and have a long transit? Hire a cab and spend some time enjoying slot machines at River Rock Casino Resort. There are slots galore and the different themes make it an enjoyable visit for all. There is even a Dungeons and Dragons slot for gamers. A fourteen-table game room can be found at the casino and international poker tournaments are held regularly. Other features include a VIP area, spa, live music, 24-hour food and drink, as well as other entertainment. Richmond is also worth a quick visit, especially for some delicious seafood.
Casino de Montreal – The Big Gun
Casino de Montreal is 526,488 square feet of casino excitement. The casino has around 20 thousand visitors each day and is one of the biggest casinos on the globe. If you are still unconvinced about the size of the place, then imagine five floors of slots and table games. 3,000 machines and 111 table games make the casino seem even more mammoth. Casino de Montreal games can be played in a smoke-free environment and many players comment on the user-friendly games and helpful staff. Complimentary drinks and top-rated gourmet food is all part of the experience at Casino de Montreal.
Hard Rock Casino – Another Big One
Hard Rock Casino is another large casino located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The casino is over 80,000 square feet, making it a big one in Canada. Hard Rock has gaming tables, slots, baccarat and a poker room. The casino includes 70 casino tables and 1,000 slots. Private rooms and high roller areas are also available. However, the Hard Rock name is known for excellent food and this is what people love about this casino. Many players comment on the quality of the food here. It even has a 1,000 seat theatre, making it great for dining and a show.
Elements Casino Brantford – Enjoy High Culture
Elements Casino Brantford is a historical gem for culture in Ontario. It is a charity casino that was established last century. It includes the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, which is a high society entertainment venue in Ontario. The centre is well known to performing arts enthusiasts in Ontario and Canada. Players come to see a show, enjoy some gourmet food and a game. The casino also has plenty of slots, table games, blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, three card poker, roulette, and other games. There is also a 14-table Texas Hold ‘Em poker room. Enjoy all the excitement.
River Cree Resort and Casino – Sports Lovers
River Cree Resort and Casino is a sport and gaming venue located in Edmonton that should not be overlooked. It has 39 tables of various money limits and over 1,000 slots. There are also a few different places to dine while enjoying a bet and other things to experience. There is a fitness centre, spa and a 200 room resort. However, the most interesting feature of this casino is the two hockey rinks, which are often used by the Edmonton Oilers for practice. It is possible to watch the team practice and go for a meal and some gaming fun.
For the ones who fancy playing online we recomend visiting canadiancasino.org!