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Breaking News by Nicole Salazar

Breaking News Roundup – Week of April 27

A Jewish gathering in Israel resulted in the deaths of 44 people, and the injury of some 150 others.

The New York Times estimated that crowd of approximately 100,000 people had been congregating at Mount Meron the night prior to the stampede in celebration of Lag b’Omer. This even had been the first legal huge religious gathering since India’s curtailing of coronavirus mutations. A 24-year-old witness told Army Radio that a first row of people collapsed, resulting in the second row of people to also fall due to the pressure of the stampede, and so on. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted Thursday night, “Our hearts go out to the people of Israel tonight following the tragedy at Mount Meron. We offer our condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in this disaster and wish a full and swift recovery to those injured.”

Coronavirus cases soar in India.

A global, record-number of cases has been set for the fifth day straight as of Monday in India. 352,991 cases had been confirmed over a 24-hour period. Immediately, the United States moved to send over medical equipment, medical gear, and other coronavirus resources. President Biden tweeted on Sunday night: “Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need.”

North Carolina sheriff requests body camera footage of Andrew Brown Jr.’s death.

A North Carolina sheriff requests that the footage of Andrew Brown Jr.’s death be made publicly accessible. However, a court motion will have to be made to do so. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten clarified “only a judge can release the video.” Wooten has allowed four of the deputies back on active duty after video evidence proved that they didn’t fire their weapons. Three sheriffs who did fire their weapons will remain on leave until the investigation is complete. As of Wednesday, the judge denied making the footage publicly accessible, but allowed Brown’s family to view the recording.

New Orleans Shooting Resulted in Injury to Five People

Early morning on Saturday, a shooting on Bourbon Street in New Orleans resulted in the injury to five people, though none of the injuries are believed to be life threatening. One person was treated on scene, and the rest of the injured people were taken to a nearby hospital. The reason behind what led to the shooting is currently unknown, but detectives are investigating the crime scene.

Wisconsin Casino Shooting resulted in tragedy.

Saturday night, a shooting at the Oneida Casino near Green Bay, Wisconsin, resulted in the death of two people, and serious injury to a third victim. Investigators believe that the gunman had a “personal relationship” with an employee who worked inside the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center at the Duck Creek restaurant. The targeted employee wasn’t working when the gunman took to opening fire, so the gunman instead attacked his target’s “co-workers or friends,” says Lt. Kevin Pawlak of the Brown Country Sheriff’s Department. The main casino and other facilities are closed until further notice, and the investigation is still unfolding.

Medina Spirit Wins 147th Kentucky Derby

The winner of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday was Medina Spirit. This year’s derby is believed to be the most attended event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The prized pony was trained by Bob Baffert, the most accomplished winner of the Derby–this win counting as his seventh victory. Medina Spirit won over second place Manaloun, third place Hot Rod Charlie, and Essential Quality at fourth.

On Wednesday, federal agents executed search warrants to investigate Rudy Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment.

The criminal investigation into Giuliani, who served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has been underway for more than two years already. Trump’s activities in Ukraine, which may or may not involve illegal lobbying, are one of the main focuses of the investigation. Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing, claiming innocence, and has not been charged. A search warrant for a lawyer, such as Giuliani, requires a sign-off from the highest levels of the Department of Justice. Giuliani’s electronic devices including the computer belonging to his assistant. Giuliani’s assistant, Jo Ann Zafonte, has also received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury in court next month.

President Joe Biden surpassed 100 days in office.

During his speech to mark this event in Duluth, Georgia, Biden was interrupted by protesters rallying for prison reform. Biden agreed with their demand and took to praising and acknowledging Derek Chauvin’s conviction.

Some of the other biggest feats of Biden’s 100 days in office so far include administering 200 million vaccines doses as of April 21, passage of the American Rescue Plan to bolster funding vaccinations and improve economic recovery. President Biden also reopened the federal Affordable Care Act exchange, with additional assistance as part of the Democrat’s $1.9 trillion dollar relief package.

Further, Biden rescinded Trump’s national emergency declaration regarding the former president’s “zero tolerance” policy regarding migrant families. Biden has reversed Trump’s travel ban that targeted mostly Muslim countries and secured the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for children brought into America as children.

Biden has also looked to address foreign policy issues, committing to withdrawing troops for Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Additionally, Biden has looked to salvage the US-Iranian nuclear deal previously put into place by former President Barack Obama. The Biden administration has also issued diplomatic expulsions against Russia in response to Moscow’s interference in the 2020 election.

Looking to address issues of climate change, Biden looks to lower the US’ emission of greenhouse gases. Biden has already pursed this commitment by formally rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement back in February.

Finally, the President has showcased his commitment to social justice by hosting the most racially diverse cabinet in history, dissolving the 1776 commission, signing executive orders surrounding racial equity, and repealing Trump’s ban unto transgender people joining the military.

Biden looks to continue the national shift to greener energy, improve the US’ infrastructure, and invest in a $1.8 trillion federal investment program regarding education, childcare, and paid family leave.

Book award illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Sheikh Zayed Book Award

Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces 2021 Winners

The World’s Leading Arab Literature and Culture Prizes

  • Three women win including Iman Mersal for the Literature Prize, with additional awards to a study of Saudi Women writers, Arab oration, and a history of supremacy
  • Each winner receives a career-changing prize of $204,181
  • Winners hail from five countries: Egypt (2), Lebanon (1), Saudi Arabia (2), Tunisia (2), and the US (1)
  • Literature and Children’s Book categories receive translation funding
  • The awards will be presented in a ceremony streamed live during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (May 23-29, 2021)
  • Record-breaking year for submissions with over 2,349 entries from 57 countries
  • Cultural Personality of the Year to be announced at a later date

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, the Sheikh Zayed Book has revealed the winners of its 15th edition across eight key categories.

Three women took prizes this year with internationally renowned Egyptian author Iman Mersalwinning the Literature Prize, Dr. Asma bint Muqbil bin Awad Al-Ahmadi taking the Young Author Prize for her critical study of Saudi Women writers, and University of Chicago professorTahera Qutbuddin winning the Prize for Culture in Other Languages for her book Arabic Oration: Art and Function.

Michael Cooperson, a UCLA professor of Arabic, won the Translation Prize for his innovative translation of Maqamat Al-Hariri’s Impostures, a story of the popular Arab folk character Abu Zayd. The Children’s Literature category was won by the Tunisian author Mizouni Bannani for his novel An Artist Journey (Rehlat Fannan); The Literary and Art Criticism Prize was won by Khelil Gouia for his history of Tunisian art, The Path of Modernisation in the Visual Arts: From Drawing to Painting (Massar al Tahdeeth fil Funoon al Tashkeeliyya men al Ursooma ela al Lawhah). The Development of Nations Prize went to the Egyptian scholar Saeed El-Masri for his thought-provoking Legacy of Supremacy between Folklore and Religion (Turah al Este’la Bayn al Fokelore wal Majal al Dini). The Publishing and Technology Prize was presented to Dar Al Jadeed Publishing of Lebanon. The Cultural Personality of the Year Award to be announced at a later date. 

The winning titles in the children’s books and literature categories will be entitled for translation funding through the Award’s Translation Grant. Nine books have been translated into multiple languages since the launch of this grant. The Award has seen a growing interest in translation requests, reiterating the importance of building bridges between nations, cultures, literature, and heritage.

The Awards will be formally presented on May 24th and streamed live on YouTube from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (23-29 May 2021).

The winners will each receive a prize of $204,181 US (the equivalent of 750,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams) both in recognition of their achievements and to support their ongoing work. SZBA prize alumna Dame Marina Warner (Arab Culture in Other Languages, 2013) has described the Award as one that nourishes the academic community, “less of a trophy than a lavish bursary that allows the recipient to continue their adventures in understanding”.

2020 saw a record-breaking year for submissions, with 2,349 entries from 57 countries, particularly strongin the Young Author, Literature, and Children’s Literature categories. The Judging Committee noted that, despite a challenging year due to the global pandemic, they were delighted by the increase in submissions, reflecting not only the importance of literary awards but the resilience and vitality of the publishing industry.   

One of the Arab world’s most prestigious literary prizes, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award aims to showcase the most powerful, stimulating, and challenging works representing the Arab world, and to encourage greater scholarship and creativity by recognizing and rewarding these significant cultural achievements in Arabic culture.   In the words of last year’s Children’s Literature winner Ibtisam Barakat, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is “the Arab world’s equivalent to the Nobel prize”.

H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said, “Since its first edition in 2006, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award has proved to be a beacon of culture and literature, recognised and respected internationally as a champion of creativity. Through this inspirational Award, we honour the memory of our nation’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose far-reaching vision for the UAE was intrinsically linked to the cornerstones of culture, knowledge and human development.”

Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, commented, “As one of the Arab world’s leading cultural awards we are proud to support a flourishing international publishing landscape and pleased to see winners are from five countries across the globe. The judges were especially impressed with the range of genres, the breadth of topics and the ambition of the scholars and writers represented here.  This year’s winners highlight the depth and prestige of the Award in the Arab world and beyond. We commend their achievement and look forward to seeing more superb work in the years to come.

French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf, winner of the 2016 Cultural Personality of the year, commented, ‘In such difficult times, it is more important than ever to focus on books and on cultural values. They alone can provide us with the moral compass we so desperately need to move on with our eyes wide open.’

The 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award Winners:

The Prize for Literature: Dr. Iman Mersal for her book In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat (Fee Athar Enayat Al Zayyat)

The judges presented this award to Ms. Mersal for her unique and poignant exploration of the life of the Egyptian writer Enayat al Zayat who died in 1963 four years before her only novel was published. Mersal blends a mix of investigative journalism and storytelling to illuminate a writer’s struggles with mental health and uncover the roots of a woman’s search for identity in contemporary Arab society. 

Iman Mersal is an Egyptian poet, writer, academic and translator. She works as an assistant professor of Arabic literature and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Alberta, Canada and currently resides in Marseille, France. An anthology of her works was translated into more than twenty-two languages and she has five poetry collections published. Herr book, Mamar Moetem Yasloh fee Talom Al Raks (A Dark Path Suitable for Learning to Dance), is one of the most important poetry books issued by the generation of the nineties in Arabic poetry.

The Prize for Young Author: Dr. Asma bint Muqbil bin Awad Al-Ahmadi for her book The Problems of the Narrated Self in the Saudi Feminist Novel (Eshkalyat Al-Thaat Al-Saredah Fee Al-Rwayah Al-Nesaayah Al-Saudiah)

The judges present this award to Dr. Asma bint Muqbil bin Awad Al-Ahmadi for her exploration of the themes of female identity through the lens of Saudi Arabian feminist literature, 1999-2012. This groundbreaking work focuses on topics that female Saudi writers have explored, such as belonging and self-realization.

A Saudi academic and critic, winner of the Sharjah Prize for Gulf Women’s Creativity 2019. Dr. Al-Ahmadi holds a PhD in Philosophy – Specializing in Arabic Language and Literature, and she is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Islamic Culture and Language Skills in the College of Science and Arts – King Abdulaziz University.

Prize for Children’s Literature: Mr. Mizouni Bannani for his book An Artist’s Journey (Rehlat Fannan)

The judges present this award to Mr. Bannani for his innovative use of language and multi-sensory educational techniques in ‘An Artist’s Journey‘. Mr. Bannani’s work is intended to inspire educators and children to learn through active participation and to ignite a sense of wonder and imagination in the process.

Mizouni Bannani is a Professor of Education Sciences at the Higher Institute for Applied Studies in Humanities in Sbeitla, Tunisia. He published two collections of short stories entitled Humma Al Ardh (The Fever of the Earth) in 1989, and Mawawil Aaed men Dhefat Al Nar (Mawawil of the One who Returned from the Shore of Fire) in 1996, in addition to a novel entitled Doroob Al Hawan (Paths of Humiliation). Bannani works as a literary and artistic consultant at Al Moanasah Publishing House and has participated in establishing the branch of the Union of Tunisian Writers in Kasserine in 1997 and chaired it until 2017.

Prize for Publishing & Technology: Dar Al Jadeed Publishing – Lebanon

The judges present this award to Dar Al-Jadeed Publishing for their continued dedication and focus on intellectual and linguistic studies. Their commitment to amplifying Arab poets and writers, as well as their dedication to young writers, has greatly fostered the Arab literary landscape.

Dar Al Jadeed Publishing was founded in Beirut in 2000 with a unique focus on long-forgotten topics in Arab publishing, as well as science books and linguistic and intellectual studies. The company was founded by late Lebanese writer and translator Lokman Slim and Rasha al Ameer as a strictly cultural project that pursues genuine skills and talents looking to be discovered and published in isolation from ideological considerations and partisanship. Bearing in mind the importance of science books to knowledge and the progress of a society, as well as the cultivation of rational, mythology-free knowledge.

Prize for Arabic Culture in Other Languages: Dr. Tahera Qutbuddin for her work Arabic Oration: Art and Function  

The judges present this award to Chicago-based writer Tahera Qutbuddin for her close examination of oration in the Arabic language. Ms. Qutbuddin’s comprehensive exploration of the oration tradition in Arabic society allows for a deeper understanding of how this tradition has shaped the contemporary Arab world.

Tahera Qutbuddin is a Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Chicago and serves on the editorial board of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Library of Arabic Literature. She obtained her PhD and MA from Harvard University, USA, Tamhidi Magister and BA from Ain Shams University, Cairo, and high school diploma from Sophia College, Mumbai. Her research focuses on intersections of the literary, the religious, and the political in classical Arabic poetry and prose.

Prize for Translation: Dr. Michael Cooperson for his translation of Impostures by Al-Hariri from Arabic to English  

The judges present this award to Michael Cooperson for his bold and innovative approach to translation of the classic Arab work ‘Impostures’. Mr. Cooperson excellently translated the sentiments and emotions of the ‘Impostures‘ in such a way that makes for increased accessibility among English-speaking audiences. 

Michael Cooperson is an American author and translator, Cooperson studied at Harvard University and the American University of Cairo, and currently a professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has published two monographs on early Abbasid cultural history: ‘Classical Arabic Biography’ and ‘Al-Ma’mun’. In addition to Impostures, he has translated Abdelfattah Kilito’s ‘L’Auteur et ses doubles (The Author and his Doubles)’ and Ibn al-Jawzi’s ‘Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Virtues of the Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal)’. His other interests include Maltese language and culture.

Prize for Literary and Art Criticism: Dr. Khelil Gouia for his book The Path of Modernisation in the Visual Arts: From Drawing to Painting (Massar al Tahdeeth fil Funoon al Tashkeeliyya men al Ursooma ela al Lawhah)

The judges present this award to Khelil Gouia for his narrative and research uncovers the progression of Tunisian art, illustrating connections between pre-modernist and contemporary forms of the art form.  

Doctor Khelil Gouia is a professor of aesthetics, art theories and semiology of the image at the Higher Institute of Arts of the University of Sfax, Tunisia. He holds a PhD in arts sciences and techniques, specialising in art theories and history, as well as a professorial degree in philosophy from the University of Tunis, and an in-depth studies certificate in the history of modern art (ISBAT). His published books include Tashkeel Al Roya (The Formation of the Vision), Omarat Al Roya (The Architecture of the Vision), Bonyat Al Thaeykah wa Soltat Al Namothaj (The Structure of Taste and the Authority of the Model), Al Aamal Al Fanny wa Tahwolatoh bayn Al Nathar wa Al Natharyah (Artwork and Its Transformations between Theory and Theory, An Attempt in the Constructivism of Looking) and Masar Al Tahdeeth fe Al Fonoon Al Tashkelyah, men Al Orsomah ella Al Lawha (The Path of Modernisation in the Visual Arts, From Drawing to Painting).

Prize for Contribution to the Development of Nations: Dr. Saeed El-Masri for his book Legacy of Supremacy between Folklore and Religion (Turath al Este’la Bayn al Folklore wal Majal al Dini)

The judges present this award to Dr. Saeed El-Masri for his groundbreaking research into the history of arrogance in pre-modern and contemporary Arabic society. His exploration of arrogance gets to the root of how arrogance has contributed to the spread of extremism and hate within Arab society. 

Saeed El-Masry is a Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University, and an advisor to the Minister of Culture on the development of the cultural system in Egypt. Dr. El-Masry is a cultural anthropologist and holds a PhD in sociology. He won the United Nations Award for Excellence in Human Development in 2013 for the Egypt Human Development Report, which he participated in preparing in 2010. He also won the Arab Grand Prize for Heritage for the book Eaadat Entaj Al Turath Al Shaaby; Kayfa Yatshabath Al Fokaraa Belhayat fee thel Al.

Art Exhibition illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Loribelle Spirovski Exhibition

In what is set to be the highlight of their Summer 2021 calendar, HOFA Gallery, London, will host ‘Coronation‘, a solo exhibition by prolific contemporary figurative painter Loribelle Spirovski, between the 2– 16 June this year. The upcoming exhibition, comprised entirely of new artworks created during the 2020 lockdown, delves into the effects of recent international epoch-making events on private life as distilled through the lens of the artist’s mind.         

‘Coronation’ builds on many of the themes and motifs audiences have seen in her past critically acclaimed collections like ‘Hommes’ and ‘Memento Mori’. It is also a potent play on words whose double meaning points to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the political power shifts and significant moments occurring simultaneously which continue to exert mammoth influences on the external and internal lives of people everywhere. 

In her new collection, Loribelle explores familiar and poignant themes with an urgency that speaks to the moment, employing her signature line technique to delineate eyes, faces and human forms entangled and abstracted into the minimalist geometric background which represents the room of the mind. She notes that “With the pandemic reducing the worlds of many to the confines of their phone screen, [the] ‘room’ motif seems more pertinent than ever…as a metaphor for the mind and the characters and scenes inhabiting it, signifying the external world filtered into the subconscious.”

The tenuousness of a reality mediated by technology and social media distortions is yet another strong theme of ‘Coronation’. However, the overarching theme is undoubtedly the inescapable reckoning all must face with history. As power shifts in the US reverberate around the world, ‘Coronation’ compels viewers to interrogate the things that hold sovereign power in their lives, prefaced on the recognition that there is need for a re-orientation, repudiation, or re-affirmation of individual commitments.

By her own account, Loribelle was no stranger to the emotional turmoil many experienced during lockdown. The pressures of living with restricted access to family, friends, and the outdoors while news of Covid-19 casualties trickled in forced the artist to take a stand against looming mortality by rediscovering and reaffirming the purpose of her art as a medium for self-expression and for exhuming the hidden contentions of the mind. ‘Coronation’ is an outcome of this defiance and the show will run at HOFA’s flagship gallery in Mayfair for 2 weeks from 2 to 16 as both an in-gallery show and a virtual exhibition, for all to enjoy.

Coronation‘ opens at HOFA Gallery, London on 2 June and runs for two weeks until 16 June 2021. 

A parallel virtual show will also be accessible to all online via a secure weblink.

In compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols, all visits to the gallery will be strictly on RSVP basis.

HOFA Gallery Website

Instagram

Photo courtesy of artist
Photo courtesy of artist
Lady of Guadalupe image

Lady of Guadalupe Feature Film

Lady of Guadalupe Film to Be Released in Spanish and English

First modern-day production of spiritual drama with a fresh take on a revered folklore and genre to be released throughout the US and Canada on April 13, 2021

International award-winning cast includes top film and telenovela stars: 

Guillermo Iván (Telemundo’s, Al Otro Lado del Muro), Eric da Silva (O Atentado, Valor da Vida), Paola Baldión (Portraits in A Sea of Lies), Huitzil Sol, Rudy Miera (Milagros), Norman Patrick Brown (The Thin Red Line), Kimberley Aria Peterson (The Long Short), Jesús Lloveras (Tercer Grado), and Glenn Craley. 

Click here to view the official trailer

VOD and DVD release of the feature-length film, Lady of Guadalupe from Director Pedro Brenner, Producer Robert Hymers and Pinnacle Entertainment on April 6. Following Galaxy Theaters’  December theatrical release across the U.S. and Mexico, Nova Vento Entertainment will be re-releasing the film into theaters across the U.S. beginning in April. Presented in both English and Spanish, the film depicts the revered religious and cultural icons (the Virgin of Guadalupe and Juan Diego) and is the first modern production of Juan Diego’s story. It will be available on all major cable and VOD platforms in the US and Canada and on DVD on April 13. 

Based on true events, Lady of Guadalupe is a moving religious discovery juxtaposing folklore and present day. Historically significant recreations are used to illustrate the origin of her prevalent and powerful symbolism of Mexican identity and faith. When a young and ambitious reporter (Guillermo Iván) is assigned an article on faith, he finds himself enmeshed in the legend of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Skeptical of miracles and the importance of modern-day Christianity, the reporter’s investigation takes him from cynic to true believer as his personal limits are tested. 

Trailer

Spanish language Trailer

The international cast includes popular film and telenovela stars including, Guillermo Iván (Telemundo’s, Al Otro Lado del Muro ), Eric da Silva ( O Atentado, Valor da Vida ), Paola Baldión ( Portraits In A Sea Of Lies ), Huitzil Sol, Rudy Miera ( Milagros ), Norman Patrick Brown ( The Thin Red Line ), Kimberley Aria Peterson ( The Long Short ), Jesús Lloveras ( Tercer Grado ), and Glenn Craley. 

Lise Romanoff, CEO and Managing Director of Vision Films says,“After a successful limited theatrical run, we are thrilled to share this special film with the widest audience possible on premium VOD. The messages of love and hope from Lady of Guadalupe are timeless and relevant to everyone, no matter their religious beliefs.”

Director Pedro Brenner shares, “Although five centuries have come and gone since Juan Diego walked the earth, the legacy of hope created through the miracle story of Our Lady of Guadalupe remains the defining force of Latin culture to this day.”

Executive Producer Robert Hymers says, “The film is timely in that people need quality entertainment that promotes hope, love and peace during these trying times. This culturally significant film celebrates a seminal time in Latinx history. Juan Diego’s experience is more relevant now than ever before.” 

Eden Bryant, Co-Owner of Nova Vento Entertainment adds, ” Lady of Guadalupe is a moving film speaking to the importance of faith throughout history, a wonderful addition to the catalogue we offer here at Nova Vento Entertainment. We feel movie goers will enjoy this blend of history entwined with John’s (Guillermo Iván) personal discovery of faith.” 

About Vision Films

Vision Films is a leading independent sales and VOD aggregator specializing in the licensing, marketing, and distribution of over 800 feature films, documentaries, and series from some of the most prolific independent film producers in the world. Led by Lise Romanoff, Managing Director/CEO Worldwide Distribution, Vision Films releases 2-4 films a month across Theatrical, VOD, DVD, and television platforms. 

About Pinnacle Entertainment

Pinnacle Entertainment is a Los Angeles based production company founded by social entrepreneur Robert Hymers. Pinnacle produces culturally impactful entertainment with socially relevant themes that Educate, Encourage and Entertain people from all walks of life. Pinnacle’s content and social impact focus addresses the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing billions of consumers who are compelled to make impactful content a priority focus. Through its vast network, Pinnacle is positioned uniquely to engage a rapidly growing global audience while bringing awareness and action to today’s most vital issues. The founder comes from an eclectic cultural, religious, and professional background. His unique experiences have helped develop a truly unique frame of reference that he wishes to share with the world through art. To find out more about Pinnacle Entertainment and Robert Hymers, please visit  

About Nova Vento Entertainment

Nova Vento Entertainment is a theatrical distribution company based in the United States focused on US theatrical releases of independent films into independent theaters. Nova Vento currently releases 1-2 movies a month in US theaters.   

Book illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Idris Elba × HarperCollins

Iconic and multi-award-winning actor, musician, filmmaker, and activist Idris Elba has signed a global multi-book deal with HarperCollins to publish a range of children’s books launching in 2022.

In a major UK/US co-publication deal, world rights were acquired by Ann-Janine Murtagh, Executive Publisher, HCCB UK, and Suzanne Murphy, President, and Publisher, HCCB US, from Crystal Mahey-Morgan at OWN IT! Entertainment Ltd.

Publishing will include picture books and fiction featuring a character and world imagined and developed by Idris and his writing partner Robyn Charteris, who has written numerous live-action drama, pre-school and animation programs for BBC, Channel 4, the Jim Henson Company, and Endemol as well as educational theatre for schools. Idris Elba said, “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to bring stories inspired by my daughter to life with my incredible partner Robyn Charteris, and the powerhouse team at HarperCollins.”

Executive Publisher HCCB UK, Ann-Janine Murtagh said, “Idris Elba is one of the most iconic and multi-talented creatives of his generation and I am delighted that he is joining the HarperCollins Children’s Books list. From the outset, Idris had a very clear vision of the characters and stories he has imagined and is passionate about creating books that will appeal to all children. Robyn Charteris has a fantastic track record in writing for children, working with some of the biggest producers of children’s entertainment, and I am hugely excited to also welcome her to the world of children’s books. I feel privileged that Idris has entrusted us to bring his stories to life and I cannot wait to share them with children across the globe.”

President and Publisher HCCB US, Suzanne Murphy said, “Idris Elba is a creative force, who has many wonderful stories to tell. We are honored to be working with him and with Robyn Charteris to bring Idris’s rich and imaginative storytelling to the world of children’s books, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the HarperCollins family.”

IDRIS ELBA

Golden Globe and SAG winning Idris Elba captivates audiences as an actor, producer, and director, and continually secures his position as the one to watch in Hollywood. He is the first actor to receive dual SAG awards in one evening.

Idris’s career skyrocketed on the small screen in some of the UK’s top-rated shows. Soon after, he landed the role of Stringer Bell in HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire (NAACP Image Award nomination). In 2010, Idris landed the title role on the BBC mini-series Luther, which earned him a Golden Globe, SAG Award, and four Emmy nominations. In 2005, he began his film career; his credits include American Gangster (Golden Globe nomination), Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom (Golden Globe nomination), Beasts of No Nation (SAG Award, Golden Globe nomination), and the Oscar-nominated film Molly’s Game.  He can be seen this April in the Netflix film Concrete Cowboy, which he also produced, and this summer will be starring in The Suicide Squad 2.  Other upcoming films include The Harder They Fall and Three Thousand Years of Longing.

Behind the camera, Idris made his feature-film directorial debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival with Yardie. In 2013, he founded his production company, Green Door Pictures, to champion diversity of thought. With Green Door, Idris released the documentary Mandela, My Dad and Me, produced the TV mini-series Guerrilla for Showtime, and created, produced, and appears in the Sky comedy series In the Long Run. He also created, produced, and starred in the Netflix comedy series Turn Up Charlie.

ROBYN CHARTERIS

Robyn began her career writing educational theatre for schools and charitable organizations internationally before graduating to television. For television she has written on numerous live-action drama, pre-school, and animation programs for the BBC, Channel 4, the Jim Henson Company, Channel 5, Initial Kids (Endemol), Carlton TV, Gullane, Hit Entertainment, Granada, SABC, Urban Brew, Disney, and M-Net.

Her credits include a BAFTA-winning children’s drama series for CBBC, creating and writing one of the first original 52-episode pre-school series for the launch of the digital channel CBeebies, creative consultancy for Mattel Toys and Lego, and a master’s degree in Playwriting.

ABOUT HARPERCOLLINS
HarperCollins UK is a division of HarperCollinsPublishers, the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world, with operations in 17 countries, and was named Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards 2018. With over two hundred years of history and more than 120 unique imprints around the world, HarperCollins publishes approximately 10,000 new books every year, in 16 languages, and has a print and digital catalog of more than 200,000 titles. Writing across dozens of genres, HarperCollins authors include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, and the Man Booker Prize. HarperCollins UK has offices in London, Glasgow, Honley, and Manchester and can be found online.

HARPERCOLLINS CHILDREN’S BOOKS, UK 

HarperCollins Children’s Books, unprecedented three times winner of Children’s Publisher of the Year (2014, 2015, 2016), is one of the leading publishers of children’s books, recognized for nurturing new talent as well as boasting a reputable list of established bestselling authors. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many children’s classics, including The Chronicles of Narnia, Mary Poppins, the Paddington stories, The Cat in the Hat, and The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and to some of the biggest names in children’s literature past and present, including Judith Kerr, David Walliams, Lauren Child, David Baddiel, Oliver Jeffers, and Michael Morpurgo.

HARPERCOLLINS CHILDREN’S BOOKS, US: 

HarperCollins Children’s Books is one of the leading publishers of children’s and teen books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality, award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many timeless treasures and bestsellers such as Charlotte’s Web, Goodnight Moon, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are and The Hate U Give; series including the Chronicles of Narnia, Ramona, Warriors, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy, Divergent and Red Queen; and graphic and illustrated novels such as Nimona, Invisible Emmie and New Kid. Consistently at the forefront of digital innovation, HarperCollins Children’s Books delights readers through engaging storytelling across a variety of formats and platforms, including the largest young adult (YA) book community, Epic Reads. HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollinsPublishers, which is the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world, has operations in 17 countries, and is a subsidiary of News Corp.

You can visit HarperCollins Children’s Books at HarperCollins Children, Epic Reads, and at HarperCollinsPublishers.

Headphones illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Music Streaming Revenues Jump

Music Streaming Revenues to Hit $23B in 2021:

A 50% Jump Compared to pre-COVID-19 Figures

Like many other sectors, the music industry has been significantly affected by COVID-19, with the massive cancelation of live events and huge ticket sales revenue drops amid the lockdown. With earnings from live music events shrunk to the lowest level in history, artists increasingly rely on income from streaming platforms. According to data presented by BuyShares.co.nz, music streaming revenues are expected to hit $23bn in 2021, a 50% increase compared to pre-COVID-19 figures.

Revenues to Jump by $3.3bn in a Year, Number of Users to hit 620 Million

Even before the pandemic, the music streaming industry witnessed impressive growth, with revenues rising by a CARG of 20% year-over-year. Statista survey showed that in 2017, the unified market was worth $10.5bn. In the next two years, this figure jumped to $15.2bn. However, last year, music streaming platforms witnessed the biggest annual revenue growth, as COVID-19 halted live events. Statistics show that revenues surged by almost 30% year-over-year and hit $19.7bn in 2020. The ongoing lockdown is expected to continue driving a rise in music streaming consumption, with revenues growing by another $3.3bn this year. By 2025, the entire market is forecast to hit a $33.3bn value. The Statista survey showed the number of people using music streaming platforms also surged amid the pandemic and jumped from 425.6 million in 2019 to 626.2 million in 2021. More than 900 million people worldwide are expected to use music streaming services in the next four years.

Spotify hit 155 Million Premium Subscribers in 2020, Double than Apple Music

As the world’s largest music streaming market, the United States is expected to reach 100.7 million users and $8.7bn in revenue in 2021, a 16.6% increase in a year. The Chinese market, the second-largest market globally, is forecast to grow by 20% YoY and hit $2.2bn value this year, almost four times less than the leading US. Nevertheless, with 177.7 million users in 2021, the country has the largest number of people using music streaming services globally. According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2021 Report, more than 81% of surveyed internet users in China reported listening to music streaming services last year. The United Kingdom ranked as the third-largest music streaming market with $1.4bn in revenue this year.

As the biggest music streaming service globally, Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) hit 345 million monthly active users and 155 million premium subscribers in December 2020, a 25% jump in a year. While Apple (AAPL: NASDAQ) hasn’t publicly commented on its subscriber count since reaching 60 million in June 2019, estimates from MIDiA Research put Apple Music subscribers at 72 million in 2020, or half the Spotify count.

 

The full story can be read here.

Fast food article illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 MAGAZINE

KFC DIGITAL SALES INCREASE

KFC Owner Yum Brands Reports Digital Sales of $17 Billion in 2020, Up By 45% YoY

Despite the blow of pandemic restrictions in 2020, Yum Brands’ earnings for the year topped analysts’ estimates.

According to the research data analyzed and published by Stock Apps, the company’s Q4 2020 revenue grew by 3% year-over-year (YoY) to $1.74 billion, higher than the expected $1.72 billion. For the full year, digital sales rose by 45% to $17 billion.

Based on an NPD Group report, restaurant digital orders in the US shot up by 145% YoY in December 2020. By the end of the year, carry-out accounted for 46% of off-premises orders and drive-thrus got 44%.

US Digital Restaurant Market Sales Rose by 124% in 2020 to $45 Billion

Yum Brands launched a series of initiatives to speed up its digitalization process in 2020. For KFC, a new eCommerce ecosystem streamlined off-premises order handling. As a result, transaction times at the window reduced by 16 seconds in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019.

The Habit added curbside pickup, which accounted for 10% of all sales and 50% of mobile sales. Through its Go Mobile ecosystem, Taco Bell saw drive-thru transaction times drop below four minutes. Thanks to these investments, Pizza Hut saw an 18% growth in same-store sales from off-premise channels. Taco Bell reported a 12% digital sales mix while The Habit had a 40% sales mix from its digital platform.

McDonalds also benefitted from a shift to digital, generating $10 billion from online sales across its top six markets in 2020. They accounted for20% of the company’s total annual sales. Chipotle also posted a 177.2% YoY increase in digital sales during Q4 2020, reaching $781.4 million.

According to eMarketer, digital restaurant market sales in the US rose by 123.8% in 2020 to $44.94 billion. In 2021, it is projected to increase by 22.3% to $54.97 billion and in 2022, by16.3% to $63.93 billion.

By 2025, digital sales will account for 54% of limited and quick-service restaurant business according to a study by Incisiv.

The full story, statistics and information can be found here: https://stockapps.com/blog/2021/02/25/kfc-owner-yum-brands-reports-digital-sales-of-1-7-billion-in-2020-up-by-45-yoy/

Gorgon City – Burning

Gorgon City, a UK and Chicago-based DJ duo of Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson Scott, released a brand new video for their song “Burning,” which features EVAN GIIA.

The release of this video follows their recent drop of the Terrace Dub remixed version of the song.

You can see the video by clicking right here.

Shot in Wyoming and directed by Eric Maldin, two young women find love in Laramie. They share an attraction to each other, but they only show it in public with slight gestures, like pinky touches.

A heart made of flames finally represents burning love and desire, allowing the two to reconcile and embrace.

The Terrace Dub Remix is a rework of the song with more driving energy, hypnotizing filters, slow beautiful builds and solid sharp drops while still featuring EVAN GIIA’s vocals.

You can hear the Terrace Dub Remix of “Burning” by clicking right here.

Gorgon City has amassed more than 1.4 billion global streams and 9 million singles sold throughout their career. They’ve also topped international radio station charts and landed the No. 1 spot on US Dance Radio.

To learn more about Gorgon City, you can click right here. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Netflix – Cuties

By Cassandra Yany

One of Netflix’s newest films, Cuties, has garnered much attention and backlash since its Sep. 9 release on the streaming platform. The coming-of-age film depicts a young girl as she tries to navigate her life as a pre-teen growing up in a Muslim family living in Paris.

Many critics have spoken out against the film, which currently holds the no. 7 spot in Netflix’s ‘Top 10,’ for its depiction of 11-year-old girls dancing and behaving in an indecent manner. According to the New York Times, the movie was first deemed controversial in the U.S. in August when Netflix released the promotional artwork. The original marketing for the film displayed an image of four young girls in skimpy dance costumes posing provocatively.

This, along with the trailer, prompted opposers to start petitions online and call for the removal of the film from Netflix’s catalog. Netflix apologized and changed the artwork for the film to a more innocent photo of the same four characters walking down the street with shopping bags, donning bras and underwear over their clothes.

Last week’s release of the film has sparked conversation once again amongst parents, politicians and others, causing #CancelNetflix to trend on Twitter. Lina Nealon, the Director of Corporate and Strategic Initiatives at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has spoken out against the film saying “While we commend Director Maïmouna Doucouré for exposing the very real threats to young girls having unfettered access to social media and the internet, we cannot condone the hypersexualization and exploitation of the young actresses themselves in order to make her point.” She called for Netflix to cut the “sexually-exploitive” scenes from the film, or remove the film from the platform altogether.

On Friday, Hawaii Rep. Tulse Gabbard tweeted, “@Netflix child porn ‘Cuties’ will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children… Netflix you are now complicit.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz penned a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr Friday calling for the Department of Justice to start an investigation into the production and distribution of the film to “determine whether Netflix, any of its executives, or anyone involved in the making of ‘Cuties’ violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”

Cruz wrote that “the film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial nudity” falsely claiming that there’s a scene exposing a “minor’s bare breast.” The Associated Press reported that one of Cruz’s representatives, Lauren Aronson, said that the senator has not seen the film.

According to the Washington Times, some critics are even calling on the Obama’s— who have a production deal with Netflix— to take action against the film. Deadline stated that “The reality appears to have been lost in the storm, and the truth is very few of the people reacting so strongly will have actually seen the film.”

Netflix told USA TODAY “‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. It’s an award winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up— and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”

Director Maïmouna Doucouré defends the film, saying that it works to shed light on these issues so they can be fixed. Cuties first premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, where it won the Directing Jury Award for the dramatic film category. According to the New York Times, the movie did not stir up much conversation in France after its theatrical release (as Mignnonnes in French) in August.

Deadline reports that Doucouré did not see the promotional material prior to when it was circulated on the internet. She said that she received death threats as the outrage grew over these images. She told the news site that the film is not apologetic about the hypersexualization of children, but instead is her “…personal story as well as the story of many children who have to navigate between a liberal western culture and a conservative culture at home.”

Cuties was Doucouré’s feature directorial debut. Similar to the film’s main character, Amy, Doucouré is of Senegalese descent and grew up in a Muslim culture in Paris. In an interview at Sundance, she said she first had the idea for the movie after attending a neighborhood gathering in Paris where she saw a group of 11-year-old girls doing a stage performance of a “sensual” dance. She was shocked to see girls that age dance like that in short clothing. “We can’t continue to close our eyes about that,” she told the interviewer.

Doucouré researched for a year and a half, meeting with hundreds of pre-teens who told her their stories. She learned about their ideas of femininity, and how their self image is affected by the emphasis of social media in today’s society. According to IndieWire, the young actresses’ parents were on board with the project to spread awareness of the issue, and there was a psychologist working with the girls throughout filming who is still helping them throughout the release process.

The film is centered around Amy, an 11-year-old girl who has recently moved to a housing development in a poor suburb of Paris with her Senegalese, observant Muslim family. She looks out for her brothers, takes care of responsibilities around the house, and is in the process of being taught how to ‘be a woman’ by  her aunt.

One day after prayer, Amy walks by the laundry room and sees a girl her age dancing to music playing from her phone. In a subsequent scene, Amy is seen trying to straighten her hair with a clothing iron, burning part of it off as a result. 

Amy learns that her father, who is still in Senegal, has taken a second wife and will be coming to Paris soon to have the wedding. Her mother, Mariam, tries to hide her reaction to the news, but Amy sees her grow upset and take her frustrations out on herself. This is where Amy’s behavior begins to shift; she starts to reject her culture and identity, and instead tries to conform to fit in with the other girls at school. 

At school, Amy is teased for her clothes and lack of fashion sense, so she begins to wear her younger brother’s t-shirt to match the crop tops that her classmates wear. After seeing a group of girls her age dancing after school, Amy steals her cousin’s iPhone to learn how to dance, herself. She comes across their social media accounts and begins taking selfies, imitating what she sees on their profiles. 

Amy finds herself a spot in the girls’ friend group and dance troupe, and as a result, begins to neglect her responsibilities at home. Amy starts to show more self expression, wearing her hair natural rather than pulling it back. She also begins to explore the internet more, finding videos of almost-naked women dancing rather suggestively and moving their bodies in ways that an 11-year-old probably shouldn’t be watching. 

Taking what she found online, Amy practices dancing with her friends and teaches them how to twerk. This is where the movie begins to make viewers slightly uneasy. It was jarring to see these young, innocent girls tainted by this inappropriate content and doing dance moves that they didn’t understand the implications of. It appears that this was the intention of director Doucouré, as she stated in an interview with Netflix that the film is “…a mirror of today’s society; a mirror sometimes difficult to look into and accept but still so true.”

Some of the scenes, frankly, are very disturbing to watch. These include the girls dancing provocatively for two older male workers at a laser tag facility so that they wouldn’t get in trouble for sneaking in, as well as Amy beginning to undress for her cousin once he found she had stolen his iPhone in an attempt to smooth over the situation. Perhaps the most disturbing scene is when Amy takes a picture of her genitals to post on her social media profile so that people at school would think she’s mature. While there was no nudity shown in this scene, the implied action was horrifying to watch. 

At the end of the film, Amy performs with her dance troupe at a local competition. Dressed in revealing outfits, they dance immodestly in front of a crowd of people who quickly seem unsettled. (This is the scene from which the original promotional photos were taken.) Toward the end of the song, Amy freezes as she begins to think about her mom, then runs off the stage crying. She goes home where she asks her mom not to attend her father’s wedding. Her mom continues to get ready for the event, but tells Amy that she doesn’t have to go.

Instead of going to the wedding, Amy steps outside and begins jumping rope. This scene depicts a mixture of her two identities: she is wearing jeans and a crop top with her hair down, but is surrounded by people of her culture dressed in traditional garments. After suppressing her family’s background for a majority of the movie, Amy is finally able to find the balance where her multiple cultures intersect in order to be her honest self. 

After watching Cuties, it is evident that it is not meant to promote this behavior among young girls, but instead provide commentary on what is happening today and warn the adults who see the movie. The harsh reality is that more pre-adolescents are exposed to this type of content than we think. Any child who has access to a smart device and social platforms have the potential to see a video not meant for them. Take TikTok for example: racy dances to Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” as well as a recent trend where women make “thirst traps” to Beyoncé’s “Rocket” are some of the most popular videos on the app right now. Young TikTok users can easily see creators on their For You Page enjoying themselves while engaging in these trends, causing the young viewer to want to do the same.

When speaking to Deadline, Doucouré said, “What happens is young girls see images of women being objectified, and the more the woman becomes an object, the more followers and like she has— they see that as a role model and try to imitate these women, but they’re not old enough to know what they’re doing.” In a separate interview, she posed the question, “Isn’t the objectification of a woman’s body that we often see in our Western culture not another kind of oppression?”

Overall, Cuties shows the dangers of uncensored media for young children and displays how impressionable they can be. It also shows the journey of Amy’s self-discovery and learning how to blend her multiple cultures in order to shape her identity. Unfortunately, the risqué nature of the film overshadows the storyline and the message is lost for a number of audience members.

In various articles, Doucouré is quoted discussing the meaning of the film in the broad context of femininity and what it means for young girls to enter womanhood in this digital age. During her aforementioned interview with Netflix, she stated “The real question of Cuties is can we, as women, truly choose who we want to be, beyond the role models that are imposed upon us by society?”

James Bay

James Bay – Chew On My Heart

Today, three-time Grammy-nominated and BRIT Award-winning multiplatinum singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist James Bay shares an acoustic version of his latest single “Chew On My Heart.”

“Chew On My Heart” continues to make waves. It vaulted to the Top 40 of Hot AC and Triple A, gathered nearly 9 million global streams, and entered rotation at BBC Radio 1. Rolling Stone noted it as a “Song You Need to Know” and wrote, “If ‘Chew On My Heart’ is any indication of what his forthcoming album is going to sound like, it seems like the musician is taking his sound in a more positive direction.

In talking about the song, Bay noted, “‘Chew On My Heart’ is a great example of releasing something positive about myself publicly for the first time,” he reveals. “It’s an outpouring of love, and that’s a huge theme across this new music. When I come home from tour, I burst through the door and throw my arms around my girl, and she’ll just say, ‘Okay, relax, cool’,” he laughs. “It’s cheesy, but I wrote it from that perspective. It’s the opposite of being guarded.”

Bay has remained busy during quarantine. Recently, James performed a virtual concert on YouTube in support of #SaveOurVenues, the UK crowd fundraiser started to protect music venues at risk for permanent closure due to COVID-19. In addition, James performed “Chew On My Heart” on The TODAY Show and the first full band performance of the song on Mahogany Sessions. Stay tuned for Bay’s upcoming album and tune into his free guitar lessons via Instagram Live on Wednesdays and Fridays.

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