now browsing by tag
Nigeria Confirms 238 New Cases Of Novel Covid-19 As Deaths Kick To 68
Nigeria has confirmed 238 new cases of COVID-19 as deaths rose to 68, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a tweet on Friday.
The new cases increase the country’s toll of infections to 2,170.
For the second consecutive day, Kano confirmed the highest toll of cases in the country with 92 infections. The FCT posted 36 cases and Lagos reported 30.
The number of infections has risen due to the increased capacity for testing across the country, the NCDC has said.
Experts says cases will continue to rise as more testing is carried out.
Meanwhile, the novel coronavirus has killed not less than 235,519 people since the outbreak first emerged in China in December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 8pm on Friday.
More than 3,303,510 cases were registered in 195 countries and territories. Of these cases, at least 1,003,600 are now considered recovered.
The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.
Netflix’s first African series, Queen Sono, premieres
Netflix’s first African original series, Queen Sono – about a spy from South Africa – has been released.
The streaming site’s six-episode TV thriller stars South African Pearl Thusi as the eponymous secret agent.
Written and directed by Kagiso Lediga, an award-winning stand-up comedian in South Africa, Queen Sono is filmed in several locations across the continent.
Thusi is quoted as saying that it is empowering for Africans to tell their own stories.
“Controlling the narrative is really important because we’re tired of seeing, particularly, just struggle stories,” Entertainment Weekly quoted her as saying.
Several African languages are also used during the drama, which centres on Queen Sono trying to uncover the truth behind the death of her mother, who was a hero of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
Other themes include corruption as well as much James Bond-style action and, like the fictional British spy, Queen Sono does not always play by the rules.
Reviews so far have been mixed, but most point to how refreshing it is to see a story that is set in modern-day Africa with a central character who is African.
Of all the performances, veteran actress South African Abigail Kubeka is widely praised for her humorous turn as Queen’s grandmother.
Africa is most famous for its Nollywood film productions that come out of Nigeria – it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
Experts say what Netflix offers storytellers in Africa is an opportunity to produce better-quality dramas.
In 2018, Netflix acquired the rights to Nigerian feature film Lionheart, directed by Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaja.
It became Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission for best international feature film, but it was disqualified as it was largely in English.
All six episodes of Queen Sono are now available for Netflix members, who must pay a monthly fee to stream content.
Nikita Pearl Waligwa: Queen of Katwe stars pay tribute
Stars of the film Queen of Katwe have paid tribute to actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa who has died at the age of 15.
Waligwa had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and died in hospital in Kampala on Sunday.
She starred in the 2016 film which was based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a chess prodigy from a Ugandan slum.
Her co-star David Oyelowo wrote on Instagram: “She was a ball of light in Queen of Katwa and in life.”
He played the role of Phiona Mutesi’s chess teacher while Lupita Nyong’o played her mother.
Waligwa featured as the character Gloria, a friend of Phiona who explained the rules of chess to her.
Ms Nyong’o said on Instagram: “She played Gloria with such vibrancy. In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer.”
Waligwa was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016 and Queen of Katwe director Mira Nair reportedly mobilised people to help fund her treatment in India, with Ugandan doctors reportedly saying they did not have the necessary equipment.
In Uganda, only a fraction of patients with such serious conditions get the medical help they need due to costs.
She was given the all-clear in 2017 and went back to secondary school. However, last year, she was found to have another tumour.
“You were a darling to many and we have lost you to a brain tumour at such a tender age,” Gayaza High School said.
SOURCE BBC NEWS
Pregnant actresses: ‘We’re not treated like people’
Claire Danes’s pregnant belly was hidden with computer graphics in the second season of Homeland, Olivia Coleman hid hers in big sweaters during filming of The Night Manager. And when Gillian Anderson’s bump could no longer be hidden on the X-files, “Scully” was abducted by aliens.
But not all actors are indulged by the production.
Those playing smaller parts in films and commercials often find they are forced to hide their pregnancies, not from the viewers but from people making the programmes themselves.
Some are successful, but many are mistreated by an industry marked by high staff turnover, an overabundance of competition and in some cases, a profound lack of respect.
Several women spoke to the BBC on the condition of anonymity. All say they lost jobs or auditions when it was found they were pregnant.
Either they were asked to disclose their pregnancy on a form before their audition, or they were asked in person during their interview.
Three who spoke to the BBC were not showing at the time their commercials would have been shot.
‘I felt so weak’
Sarah (not her real name) describes herself as a jobbing actress. She mainly works on films and TV but commercials help her to pay the bills.
Early in her pregnancy, she had reservations about a commercial audition that her agent had scheduled. She decided to tell him her news and she expected the worst.
“But, he was brilliant,” she says. He told her about her rights. How under the Equality Act, she was not required to disclose her pregnancy until 15 weeks before her due date.
“They are not allowed to discriminate against you,” he promised.
The casting notice for the audition, often called a breakdown, said the ad might require some physical activity, but also mentioned a stunt double might be used for the more highly athletic moments.
Together, Sarah and her agent decided she should just go to the audition and see. “You always want to be ready and available for work,” she says.
Her worry grew as she sat among the other actresses in the waiting area outside of the audition room.
Women coming out of the session were stressed and said the experience was physically taxing. Sarah was up next. Her name was called alongside another actress who was also auditioning for the same role. They went in as a pair to see the casting director.
The other woman was chosen first to read out the lines. Then the casting director turned to Sarah.
“You’ll do the physical part. Are you fit?” she was asked. “I am fit, but I need to be safe,” she said.
“Why?” said the casting director. “Because I am pregnant,” said Sarah.
She says the casting director then became angry, saying: “Didn’t you read the script? What did you think we were going to do today? I don’t even understand why you have come. Don’t you think it was a bad idea?”
Sarah says she felt humiliated, and froze.
“I said to the casting director I’m so sorry for wasting your time, and then I even said to the other actress – I’m so sorry didn’t mean to waste your time either”.
“Then the casting director said, ‘Yes, I think it’s best if you leave’.”
Sarah left the casting and once on the street, she burst into tears. “It made me feel so unconfident about my pregnancy and my own physical ability. It made me feel so weak.”
Her “confidence was knocked,” she says, until she won a role on a television series, where the production was much friendlier and had no problem shooting her from the bump up.
Tim Gale, head of commercials at the actor’s union, Equity, is well acquainted with standing up for his members on this issue.
“We used to get two to three calls a week but we get less than one a month now,” says Mr Gale.
Sometimes, a form is provided in the waiting room which asks an actor to tick a box to say if they or their partner are expecting.
Actors of both sexes who sent the BBC copies of these forms, say that when they disclosed a pregnancy, jobs they had secured were either pulled or delayed.
A few said they spoke with the union and assumed the problem had been sorted after their particular situation was treated.
But Mr Gale says even in recent weeks, he has seen these forms pop up.
Actors’ Equity along with the Casting Directors Association and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, have drafted an artist declaration form.
The form only asks an actor to disclose any reputational risk or any reason an actor might not be able to travel by plane. There is no mention of pregnancy.
The actor’s union has lobbied production companies to use this new form, but there is such high staff turnover in production companies, the old forms keep popping up.
Sometimes the insurance companies that underwrite commercial productions demand such a form be used and Equity has had to fight this, too.
Pregnancy is not a disability under the Equality Act – and therefore insurance companies cannot demand the production company deny work to those expecting.
‘A long road’
If an actress wins a role, an insurance company is allowed to ask after the health of an actress. Commercial productions only film for a day or two and an intense risk assessment is carried out to factor costs that might occur from a delay in shooting.
While it is not appropriate to ask at the job interview stage, once they are cast, the insurance company backing the production can ask, for example, if an actress is pregnant.
They can also raise their premiums if they find out a woman is pregnant, but extra costs have no impact on the law. The actress cannot be fired, as it would be discrimination.
However, experts say, the same insurance company could be liable if a director or producer misuses that information and the actress is fired.
“Things are much better than they were, even five years ago. But it has been a long road getting to this point,” says Mr Gale.
The association which represents casting directors says it is not acceptable to ask actors if they are pregnant “before or at casting calls”.
“If actors are pregnant, we would expect casting directors to support them, as well as those who may be breastfeeding or have childcare commitments,” says Kate Evans the chair of the Casting Directors Association.
Know your rights
Many actors are unaware of their rights under the 2010 Equality Act. The Equality and Human Rights Commission – responsible for enforcing the act – says actors should not be asked any personal questions about relationships and family planning in interviews.
“Such attitudes are straight out of the dark ages and have no place in a modern working culture,” says the Commission. “Everyone has the right to work and a working environment that allows them to achieve their full potential.”
Katie Wood, a barrister for Maternity Action says sometimes the law is misinterpreted because employers think the Equality Act only covers full-time employees, but pregnancy rights extend to the self-employed as well.
“To ask someone about whether their partner was pregnant holds the potential for associative discrimination,” she says.
English case law on actors is varied and in some results, actors have been categorised as “service providers”. This means they work like a sole trader who might provide a service to a company, much like a plumber. But Ms Wood says even then, the Equality Act applies.
One actress tells the BBC that she continued to work because she just “flat out refused” to mention her pregnancy. “I didn’t tell my agent. I didn’t tell anyone. I was afraid it would cost me work.”
She was cast in a film and between the costume fitting and the movie shoot there were a couple of weeks.
“When I put on my costume I had definitely gained weight. They asked, ‘what happened?’ And I just threw up my hands and said, ‘Oh, yeah. I wonder why’.”
She did not know what her rights were and she felt it was just better to keep it a secret because actors are “so easily replaceable”.
Having courage was hard, she says. “I had such bad sickness in the beginning, but couldn’t tell anyone. I was also nervous because what if something went wrong?
“What should have been such a natural thing was a really lonely experience.”
Another actress agrees: “As actors, we are not treated like people. It’s like we just don’t matter.”
Jussie Smollett faces six new charges
TV actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a special prosecutor in Illinois on six counts of lying to police.
The Empire actor said he was the subject of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago last year.
Authorities have accused him of staging the attack on himself for publicity, something he has always denied.
Smollett now faces six counts of disorderly conduct, special prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statement.
What does Smollett say happened?
In January last year, Chicago police said they were investigating a suspected racist and homophobic attack on Smollett by two masked men.
They said the actor was punched in the face, had an “unknown chemical substance” poured on him and a rope wrapped around his neck.
Smollett told police the two attackers also made reference to Maga, or Make America Great Again – the slogan often used by President Donald Trump and his supporters.
Why was he arrested?
In February last year, Smollett was arrested.
Police accused the actor of paying two brothers to carry out the attack “to promote his career” because he was “dissatisfied with his salary”.
What’s the latest?
Mr Webb, the special prosecutor assigned in August to investigate how local prosecutors handled the case, said in a statement he was going to further prosecute Smollett.
The actor was charged with “making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” Mr Webb said.
He added that his office had obtained “sufficient factual evidence” to argue that prosecutors were wrong to drop the case last year.
Smollett is due in court on 24 February.
The city has also sued the actor in a civil suit, seeking payment of more than $130,000 (£100,000) for overtime paid to officers involved in investigating his claims. Smollett has filed a counter suit.
Oscars 2020: South Korea’s Parasite makes history by winning best picture.
South Korean film Parasite has been named best picture at this year’s Oscars, becoming the first non-English language film to take the top prize.
Renee Zellweger won best actress for playing Judy Garland in Judy. Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor for Joker.
Brad Pitt and Laura Dern scooped the supporting acting awards for their roles in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and Marriage Story respectively.
Parasite won four awards in total, while Sir Sam Mendes’s 1917 took three.
The World War One epic had been the favorite to win best picture, but its awards all came in the technical categories.
Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho beat Sir Sam to the prize for best director, and also took the best original screenplay award.
The film is a vicious social satire about two families from different classes in Seoul – one who live in poverty in a semi-basement, and another rich family residing in a large home.
It has now managed what no other subtitled film has done in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards and won best picture.
“I feel like I’ll wake up to find it’s all a dream. It all feels very surreal,” Bong said.
Producer Kwak Sin-ae, who collected the trophy, said: “I’m speechless. We never imagined this to happen. I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now.”
There were boos when organizers tried to cut short the best picture acceptance speech by turning the stage lights off – leading the lights to be turned back on, allowing the celebrations to continue.
Pitt won the first acting Oscar of his career – picking up the best supporting actor trophy for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s film.
He was the first winner of the night, and immediately used his speech to attack the way the impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump were handled.
He referred to the fact that Republican senators voted against allowing witnesses including former National Security Adviser John Bolton to give evidence.
“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” he said. “I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it and in the end the adults do the right thing.”
The 56-year-old moved from the political to the personal, paying tribute to co-star Leonardo DiCaprio and reflecting on his journey to Hollywood superstardom.
“I’m a bit gobsmacked,” he said, getting emotional. “I’m not one to look back, but this has made me do so.”
OSCAR AWARD 2020 Winners
Awards Season is always an exciting time for the film world, as the last year’s most acclaimed work is recognized by the film academy. And after the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and BAFTAs it all comes down to the Academy Awards. Many filmmakers hope to one day get an Oscar of their own.
The 2020 award winners list
1. Best picture : Parasite
2. Best actress : Renée Zellweger, Judy
3. Best actor : Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
4. Best director : Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
5. Best Music (original song) : “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
6. Best Music (original score) : Joker
7. Best International feature film : South Korea, Parasite
8. Best Makeup and hair-styling : Bombshell
9. Best Visual effects :1917
10. Best film editing :Ford v Ferrari
11. Best cinematography : Roger Deakins, 1917
12. Best sound mixing : 1917
13. Best sound editing : Ford v Ferrari
14. Best supporting actress : Laura Dern, Marriage Story
15. Best Documentary short feature : Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
16. Best Documentary feature : American Factory
17. Best costume design : Jacqueline Durran, Little Women
18. Best production design : Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
19. Best Live-action short film : The Neighbors’ Window
20. Best adapted screenplay : Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit
21. Best original screenplay : Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
22. Best Animated short film : Hair Love
23. Best Animated feature film : Toy Story 4
24. Best supporting actor : Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Parasite emerge as the biggest winner with 4 awards.