Dhaka, July 18 (UNB) - When Wu Ke-xi was looking for a frightening plotline for her latest film, she didn’t need to look further than her own industry, reports The Indian Express.
The Taiwanese actress and screenwriter’s latest movie, Nina Wu, is the story of an actress who, in pursuit of a role that will lead to stardom, is abused and psychologically scarred by a man in power.
Wu found herself closely following the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, and decided to write something for women affected by sexual assaults in the entertainment industry. Directed by Midi Z, it was selected to show at the Cannes Film Festival.
“After 2017, after the year the Harvey Weinstein stuff occurred, I read a lot of documents and interviews. I was so purely curious about what happened,” said Wu. She said she has been threatened in her career, but never sexually assaulted. “It’s still a humiliating experience,” she said.
“So I felt really connected to those women.”
Asia is having its own #MeToo moment, with its homegrown entertainment industries grappling with many of the issues that have upended entertainment careers in the United States and elsewhere.
Earlier this year, the K-pop scene was shaken when two male stars were accused of sexual misconduct in South Korea. Solo singer Jung Joon-young faced allegations he secretly filmed himself having sex with women and shared the footage on a mobile messenger app; he apologized to the victims. And Seungri, the youngest member of the quintet Big Bang, was accused of trying to steer sex services to business investors. He denied the charges and retired from the group.
Last year, in India, Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta came forward with details of a 2008 complaint she filed against actor Nana Parekar for alleged sexual harassment, which he denied. A flood of stories of sexual harassment and assault followed on social media from Indian actresses and writers.
Indian actor, singer and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, a United Nations He For She ambassador with his own Men Against Rape and Discrimination initiative, says there is unease in the industry.
“Fear runs down the spine of everyone, thinking that, ‘Oh my God, maybe I’ve done something in the past that might come back to bite me,'” he said.
He encourages other women to come forward and speak out.
“Nobody can do it for her. Nobody can out her story and put her in a position that maybe she doesn’t want to be in,” he said. “But when she does, then it’s important that people rally around her so that she feels she’s done the right thing. And through her, through that conversation, and through her words she will hopefully inspire, motivate many more people to come out. And that’s the way the system will be cleaned.”
Screenwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan did speak out. She became a central figure in China’s #MeToo movement after an essay she wrote privately, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a TV star, went public on the social media platform Sina Weibo last summer. A prominent television host, Zhu Jun, sued her for defamation and Zhou followed with her own suit, for infringing on her personal rights. Women’s rights advocates in China are following the case.
Zhou says the movement has only reached so far in China, affecting mostly a group of high-profile, well-connected men.
“They were frightened by the #MeToo trend and they stopped. But most people in this society, they’ve never heard of #MeToo,” she said.
“I’ve actually been lucky because Zhu Jun is well-known,” Zhou said. “It’s extremely difficult for women who have been assaulted by their friends, colleagues or partners to seek legal recourse.”
Japanese TV journalist Shiori Ito said she experienced months of trolling and shaming after she revealed in May 2017 that she had been raped. That was before the #MeToo movement got under way in the United States.
“I’m very grateful to all the other women that have spoken up because I felt very lonely,” she said. She said she has felt a change in Japan and in her own family “who were really against me speaking up, and then they started saying, ‘You know what, maybe she’s right.'”
An emotional television interview with South Korean prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun in January 2018, in which she said she had been assaulted eight years earlier, is credited with starting the #MeToo movement there. Seo has since won a court case for abuse of power against her alleged assaulter. She said that watching women reveal their stories in Hollywood helped give her the courage to speak publicly. Supporters marched in the streets with candles and #WithYou banners.
“I told myself that, ‘Yes, this was not my fault and that I should not be ashamed at all,'” she said.
In Pakistan, dancer, theatre director and activist Sheema Kermani is campaigning against sexual abuse, trying to make the movement there more than a moment.
“When actresses, big actresses, started calling out big names of actors for sexual harassment, I think it gave Pakistani women and women in media . the courage to speak out,” she said.
In Thailand, model and TV personality Cindy Sirinya Bishop launched the “Don’t Tell Me How To Dress” campaign after receiving a wave of support for a “social media rant” — her response to an article advising women not to wear sexy clothes for the Thai New Year in order to avoid sexual assault.
“It all started when that clip that I posted went viral overnight with the support of many, many women all over Thailand, chiming in, commenting, sharing and saying ‘Yes, this is exactly what we feel.’ Why are we always the ones that have to cover up, or why, when we are harassed or assaulted, is it somehow our fault?” she said.
Bishop also created an exhibition displaying clothing worn by sexual-assault victims. “We have university student outfits to toddler’s clothing to sweatpants and T-shirts,” she said.
She says her movement would have happened regardless of the stories arriving from America. But she adds: “In some way, the #MeToo movement has collectively empowered women without our knowing it, all over the world.”
New York, Jul 18 (AP/UNB) — Janet Jackson, Chris Brown, 50 Cent, Future and Tyga have been added to the lineup for the Jeddah World Fest, the concert in Saudi Arabia that Nicki Minaj pulled out of because of human rights concerns.
The website for the event, to take place Thursday at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium, posted photos of the newly added acts alongside previously announced performers Liam Payne and Steve Aoki.
The Human Rights Foundation and other organizations have asked artists not to perform in Saudi Arabia, where gender segregation between single men and women is enforced in many restaurants, coffee shops, public schools and universities. Other rules have loosened in the kingdom with women now allowed to drive and attend events at sports stadiums.
Representatives for Jackson, Brown, 50 Cent, Future and Tyga didn't immediately reply to emails seeking comment.
Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, criticized the entertainers in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press, saying it was "profoundly distressing that they have chosen money over morals."
He added: "These individuals constantly make public statements of support for LGBT rights and women's rights, except, apparently, when a seven-figure check is attached. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Principal apparently matters to them far more than principles."
Minaj said she pulled out of the concert because she wants to show support for women's rights, gay rights and freedom of expression. Human rights organizations praised the rapper for her decision.
Saudi Arabia saw profound change last year as a result of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top-down reform efforts, including the opening of the first movie theater and the lifting of the world's only ban on women driving. But there's a hard limit to the reforms — as revealed by the brutal killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents close to the crown prince in October and the reported torture of several women's rights activists in detention. While the arena for entertainment is widening, the space for political engagement and dissent has virtually disappeared.
"It's clear that, after losing Nicki Minaj on the basis of the Saudi regime's atrocious human rights record and their treatment of women and the gay community, the Crown Prince has chosen to spend whatever it takes to give the appearance that things are normal and that this is just another music concert. Except it isn't," Halvorssen's statement read. "It's a blatant public relations push on the heels of the pre-meditated assassination of a Washington Post columnist and the ongoing imprisonment of dozens of human rights activists. Saudi is engaged in a sophisticated campaign of distraction."
Over the past several months, the kingdom has seen performances by Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, the Black Eyed Peas, Sean Paul, David Guetta and Tiesto. That's a stark change from when Saudi morality police would raid establishments that played loud music.
San Diego, Jul 18 (AP/UNB) — Dust off your Captain Marvel cosplay, San Diego Comic-Con is here.
The four-and-a-half day convention kicked off Wednesday with the show room floor opening to thousands vying for exclusive merchandise, from art to toys. Later, Warner Bros. is hosting a ScareDiego event promising some hair-raising new footage from "It: Chapter Two."
"We have some exciting footage but I can't go into details," said "It" director Andy Muschietti. "But I think it's going to be worth it for the fans to go and watch."
Workers were putting the final touches on the all the branded exhibitions Wednesday evening, like the Walking Dead-themed AMC "Deadquarters" installation, while enthusiastic fans lined up outside of the convention center. A few were already in full costume, including a man in a "Stranger Things" Hawkins Police uniform and an Australian couple dressed as Marty McFly and Doc Brown, although most opted for the nerd-approved t-shirt (there were more than a few AT-AT, Jurassic Park and Laura Palmer shirts) for badge pickup.
Those in full cosplay were grateful for the cooler-than-usual temperatures.
"I would be melting," said Ana Nibbla of San Diego, who was dressed as a female Pennywise, or "Princess Pennywise" as she likes to call it.
She likes to hit the convention floor early to check out exclusives from artists who don't go to conventions often. "This is the one time a year I get to see them in person," she said.
And although Wednesday is typically quiet, lines and big groups could be found offsite as well, including the dozens of people who'd gathered outside a Conan O'Brien taping hoping to catch the cast of "It: Chapter Two."
"This is my favorite, I'm a huge Stephen King fan," said Cheryl Dolbel from Jersey in the Channel Islands, who was wearing a t-shirt with artist drawings of both Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise. "We tried to go for the taping, but we couldn't get in. We've been waiting a few hours."
She's hoping to see Skarsgård and James McAvoy and later in the week is going to visit the "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" installation.
As the week goes on, movie fans will also get a look at Paramount's "Terminator: Dark Fate" at a Hall H presentation Thursday, and on Saturday be treated to a Marvel Studios presentation with its president, Kevin Feige. Details for the Marvel show are being kept under wraps, but many expect Feige and his "special guests" will outline the plans for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which could include announcements about "Black Widow," ''Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," ''Shang-Chi" and "The Eternals."
The movie fare is lighter than usual, however. A few of the studios have chosen to sit this year out, like Sony, which is already cleaning up at the box office with "Spider-Man: Far From Home," and Universal Pictures, which doesn't have any superheroes on its slate at all. Although Warner Bros. is coming with "It: Chapter Two," it does not have a big Hall H presentation planned for any of its DC properties like "Joker" and the Harley Quinn spinoff "Birds of Prey." And there will be no "Star Wars" news either.
"If anything, the exiting of some movie studios has made more room for TV and TV is just the best of the best right now," said Perri Nemiroff, a senior producer for Collider.com and host of the YouTube series Movie Talk.
Television enthusiasts will have their pick, whether they want one last go-around the cast of a show that's ended (like "Game of Thrones" and "Supernatural"), to check in with some old favorites ("The Walking Dead," ''The Good Place," ''Westworld," ''Arrow," ''Rick and Morty" and "Riverdale"), or get first look at a new property (such as "Snowpiercer," ''Star Trek: Picard" and "The Witcher").
Occasionally this means throwing a Comic-Con newbie into the mix. HBO is bringing Lin-Manuel Miranda out for his first ever convention to promote the new show "His Dark Materials."
Last month Miranda tweeted a modest request for fans: "Be gentle, it's my first Comic-Con."
Chicago, Jul 18 (AP/UNB) — The difference between R. Kelly's life in 2002 when he was last charged with child sex-related crimes and his arrest last week on even more serious charges was on full display when the R&B singer turned and slowly walked out of court.
Each step Tuesday was cut shorter than normal by the shackles around his ankles — a reminder of how small his world has become and how the advantages he once possessed have vanished. He was not posting bond and leaving by the front door to return to his life as an international recording artist as he did 17 years ago. He was heading back to a federal jail cell knowing there's a good chance he will stay there for months or even years before his case comes to trial, after a judge said the charges against him are too serious to release him on bond.
In the space of an hour, a federal prosecutor and Kelly's own lawyer outlined many of the ways the 52-year-old singer's life has changed. When he eventually went to trial in on child pornography charges in 2008, his lawyers convinced a jury that Kelly was not guilty and prosecutors couldn't prove that it was Kelly or a certain 14-year-old girl in a grainy sex video.
"You are almost better off asking what's not different for him, the situation is like night and day," said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago. "R. Kelly is now facing an array of challenges that he wasn't facing years ago and the resources the federal government can bring to bear far exceed anything he faced in state court."
For starters, the federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago and the FBI agents who have been working on the case are among the most experienced law enforcement officials in the world.
"He's facing a team of agents used to putting together complex, challenging cases against well-funded defendants," he said. "They did the El Chapo case," he said, referring to the federal probe that led to the conviction in New York of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, one of the wealthiest and most powerful drug lords in the world.
And unlike often financially strapped state prosecutors, the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI won't be outspent, he said.
The federal indictments in New York and Chicago accuse Kelly of kidnapping and coercing women and girls into having sex, producing and receiving child pornography, inducing minors to engage in sexual activity, and taking part in a conspiracy worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover up sex crimes going back decades. Kelly, who has been in jail since Friday, was arrested on state sexual abuse and sexual assault charges involving three minors and one woman over roughly a 10-year period. As with his not guilty plea to the federal charges on Tuesday, he has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the case in 2008 and now is the girl at the center of the charges. She didn't testify then, perhaps as Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Krull suggested to U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, because Kelly paid her off. But in this case, she has already told her story.
"The victim has testified it was Kelly who did this," Krull said. The young woman told a federal grand jury that she and Kelly appear in the three videos prosecutors say they have, in which he repeatedly made her call him "Daddy." Prosecutors have five witnesses who will back up her account, Krull said. "There is no doubt it is him."
It's not just that the federal cases are potentially stronger this time. It's that Kelly is weaker.
The two men who prosecutors say helped Kelly fix the first case have been charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover child sex tapes to keep them away from prosecutors before Kelly's 2008 trial. They're no longer in a position to help him and could actually hurt his case.
Mariotti said he suspects that when prosecutors charged the two they did so thinking they might cooperate in exchange for reduced or dismissed charges. "I certainly think that was in the back of their minds when they charged them," he said.
And while in 2002, Kelly walked out of court and into his recording studio to make a string of albums before his trial six years later, on Tuesday he did not return to the luxurious Trump Tower where he's been living, but to jail.
Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, said his client is being held in isolation where he doesn't even have access to television, and about the only technology he is afforded is a telephone for no more than a few minutes a week. That means Kelly, who has already been dropped by his record company and seen concert after concert canceled, has no way to make a living as long as he's locked up.
All those millions and millions he made during his long career? Between child support payments, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in a costly divorce settlement and, according to prosecutors, money he paid to find and keep young girls and prevent what he is doing with them from becoming public, Kelly is pretty much broke.
"He has no money," Greenberg told the judge on Tuesday.
In fact, he is so short of funds that after he was arrested in February he sat in jail until a fan put up the $100,000 to bail him out.
Tokyo, Jul 18 (AP/UNB) -A Japanese fire official says at least 23 people are now confirmed or presumed dead in a suspected arson at a popular animation production studio in Kyoto.
Kyoto fire department official Satoshi Fujiwara says 36 others have been injured, some of them critically.
He says firefighters found more than 10 people presumed dead on the top floor of a three-story building, some of them collapsed on the stairs leading to the roof.
Earlier, authorities have confirmed seven dead and six others presumed dead.
A man is suspected of starting the fire early Thursday. He is among those injured in a hospital.
A Japanese fire official says at least 12 people are presumed dead and more could be missing after they were trapped by fire at a popular animation production studio in Kyoto.
Kyoto fire department official Satoshi Fujiwara says 35 others have been injured, some of them critically.
He says firefighters found 12 people who are presumed dead inside the three-story building that was gutted by the blaze.
He says there are several others — up to 18 — who could not be reached but it is not clear if all those had reported to work Thursday.
A man is suspected of starting the fire early Thursday. He is among those injured in a hospital.
Japanese authorities say at least 38 people have been injured, some critically, after a man started a fire at a famous animation production studio in Kyoto.
Kyoto prefectural police say the fire broke out Thursday morning at a three-story building of Kyoto Animation after a man burst in and spread unidentified liquid that set off the blaze.
Fire department officials say 10 of the injured are in serious condition.
Rescue officials set up a tent outside the building to provide first aid and sort out the injured. Fire department officials say more than 70 people were in the building at the time of the fire, but most of them ran outside.