Fantasy-drama ‘Nathan’s Kingdom’ Explores World of Autism

A new film explores the bond between a young man with autism and the sister who cares for him.

Nathan’s Kingdom stars Jacob Lince, a 24-year-old actor who has autism. Cast members say the fantasy-drama was a journey of discovery much like the odyssey of the movie’s characters.

As a child, Lince was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, a condition that hampers the ability to communicate. He developed a talent in acting and became part of a program called Performing Arts Studio West, which provides training for people with developmental disabilities.

“I literally went there, introduced myself and got to really know what they’re all about,” said the film’s writer-director, Olicer J. Munoz. “That’s where Jacob and I discovered each other,” he said.

On a quest

Lince has faced challenges, but none as severe as those faced by the character in the film.

“He is a very complex human being,” Lince said of Nathan, who is battling imaginary demons, embodied through graphic visual effects. “He’s been through a lot in his life, and he’s had this idea in his head since he was very young about ‘the kingdom,’” said Lince, “where he feels he can be safe, and where he can escape all the darkness out there and inside of him.”

The character takes his reluctant sister, Laura, played by Madison Ford, on his quest for the mythical kingdom. Laura is Nathan’s caregiver who is battling a demon of her own — opiate addiction. Together, they embark on a road trip through the Mojave Desert.

An adventure

Ford said that Lince is calm and optimistic, unlike the character in the story.

“Filming this was an adventure in of itself,” she said, “and it was so cool to have an adventure partner there with me,” she said. “Jacob is funny, but he takes his (acting) job seriously, as well,” she added.

The film was a labor of love for Munoz, who had trouble getting funding. He said studios liked the story, but none would offer financing. So, he raised the funds himself with his producers.

“We shot a little bit, ran out of money, raised more money,” he said. “Then we spent all that money for our next block of filming, and then we raised more money. And little by little, we were able to make this film a reality in the course of about 3½ years.”

Fulfilling journey

Nathan’s Kingdom was screened at the historic Grauman’s TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood as a selection of the Dances with Films festival. About 200 films were selected from more than 2,000 entries.

“We want unique, fresh voices,” said festival co-founder Leslee Scallon. “We want it [the festival] also to have great performances.” Nathan’s Kingdom has both, she said.

Cast members had a hard but fulfilling journey, like the characters in the film, Lince said. 

“We made a lot of friends, and at the end of the day, I think we all did a great job. And it was a fantastic experience,” he added.

Lince is studying filmmaking in college and hopes to make a career in the movie industry. He also hopes to see more roles for actors on the autism spectrum like him, and more stories like Nathan’s Kingdom on the big screen.

About 1 in 59 children in the United States has been identified as having autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is about four times more common among boys than girls, the CDC notes.

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Теніс: Цуренко спробує слідом за Світоліною вийти до чвертьфіналу в Бірмінгемі

Друга ракетка України Леся Цуренко сьогодні зіграє в другому колі турніру в англійському Бірмінгемі з призовим фондом понад 936 тисяч доларів. Цуренко зустрінеться з шостою сіяною на турнірі росіянкою Дарією Касаткіною.

20 червня в Бірмінгемі перемогла в другому колі і вийшла до чвертьфіналу перша ракетка України Еліна Світоліна. П’ята ракетка світу виявилася сильнішою за француженку Алізе Корне (41 місце у світовому рейтингу) – 6:4, 6:2.

Наступною суперницею Світоліної стала румунка Міхаела Бузарнеску. Саме цій тенісистці Еліна три тижні тому програла в третьому колі відкритого чемпіонату Франції в Парижі.

Змагання у Бірмінгемі відбуваються на траві, провідні тенісистки проводять таким чином підготовку до неофіційного чемпіонату світу на цьому покритті – Вімблдонського турніру. Цей турнір розпочнеться на кортах Всеанглійського клубу лаун-тенісу та крокету 2 липня і триватиме до 15 липня.

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На Закарпатті розпочалися зйомки історичного екшена «Захар Беркут» – Держкіно

На Закарпатті у Синевирській Поляні розпочалися зйомки повнометражного історичного екшена «Захар Беркут» режисера Ахтема Сеітаблаєва.

Як повідомляє Державне агентство України з питань кіно, завершити знімальний процес планують наприкінці серпня, а прем’єра стрічки відбудеться у 2019-му році.

У зйомках екшена «Захар Беркут» за мотивами однойменної повісті Івана Франка візьме участь велика міжнародна акторська команда з України, США, Казахстану, Великобританії та Монголії. 

Продюсерами фільму з американського боку стануть Джефф Райс, Юрій Карновський і Раджа Коллінз. Водночас за всю творчу і змістову частину «Захара Беркута» відповідатиме українська команда.

Голлівудські партнери забезпечуватимуть комунікацію з міжнародним акторським складом стрічки і допомагатимуть просувати проект на північноамериканському ринку.

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Bolton to Visit Moscow, Plan Possible Trump-Putin Meeting

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton plans to visit Moscow next week to prepare for a possible meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, citing sources.

The Kremlin said Tuesday there are no plans for a meeting between Trump and Putin before the NATO summit, Interfax reported. Trump is expected to attend the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11-12.


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Ohio Restaurant Owner Gives Ex-Cons a Second Chance

Former U.S. prison convicts often face big challenges after they are released from jail. Aside from having to relearn how to function in normal society, many find that having a criminal background makes it difficult, if not impossible, to land a suitable job. But one restaurant in Cleveland wants to give ex-cons a second chance. VOA’s Yahya Barzinji visited Edwins Restaurant to learn more. Bezhan Hamdard narrates.

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May Wins Passage of Brexit Withdrawal Bill

The British government saw its flagship Brexit legislation pass through Parliament on Wednesday, but remains locked in a tussle with lawmakers over the direction of the country’s departure from the European Union.

The EU Withdrawal Bill was approved after Prime Minister Theresa May’s government narrowly won a key vote. The House of Commons rejected by 319-303 a proposal to require Parliament’s approval before the government agrees to a final divorce deal with the EU, or before walking away from the bloc without an agreement.

Later in the day, the withdrawal bill, intended to replace thousands of EU rules and regulations with U.K. statute on the day Britain leaves the bloc, also passed in the unelected House of Lords, its last parliamentary hurdle. It will become law once it receives royal assent, a formality.

Lawmakers favor close ties to EU

A majority of lawmakers favor retaining close ties with the bloc, so if the amendment requiring parliamentary approval had been adopted, it would have reduced the chances of a “no deal” Brexit. That’s a scenario feared by U.K. businesses but favored by some euroskeptic members of May’s Conservative minority government, who want a clean break from the EU.

May faced rebellion last week from pro-EU Conservative legislators, but avoided defeat by promising that Parliament would get a “meaningful vote” on the U.K.-EU divorce agreement before Brexit occurs in March.

Pro-EU lawmakers later accused the government of going back on its word by offering only a symbolic “take it or leave it” vote on the final deal and not the ability to take control of the negotiations.

Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer accused May of telling Parliament: “Tough luck. If you don’t like my proposed deal, you can have something much worse.”

The rebels sought to amend the flagship bill so they could send the government back to the negotiating table if they don’t like the deal, or if talks with the EU break down.

The government claimed that would undermine its negotiating hand with the EU.

“You cannot enter a negotiation without the right to walk away,” Brexit Secretary David Davis told lawmakers. “If you do, it rapidly ceases to be a negotiation.”

But Davis also told lawmakers it would be for the Commons speaker to decide whether lawmakers could amend any motion on a Brexit deal that was put to the House of Commons.

Concession enough

The concession was enough to get Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve, a leader of the pro-EU rebel faction, to back down and say he would support the government.

Grieve said the government had acknowledged “the sovereignty of this place (Parliament) over the executive.”

While the withdrawal bill cleared a major hurdle, the government faces more tumult in Parliament in the months to come over other pieces of Brexit legislation.

It has been two years since Britain voted by 52-48 percent to exit the 28-nation EU after four decades of membership, and there are eight months until the U.K. is due to leave the bloc on March 29, 2019.

But Britain, and its government, remains divided over Brexit, and EU leaders are frustrated with what they see as a lack of firm proposals from the U.K about future relations.

May’s government is divided between Brexit-backing ministers such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who support a clean break with the EU, and those such as Treasury chief Philip Hammond who want to keep closely aligned to the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

EU: No deal is worst scenario

The European Parliament’s leader on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, said Wednesday that he remains hopeful a U.K.-EU withdrawal agreement could be finalized by the fall so national parliaments have time to approve it before March.

“The worst scenario for both parties is no deal,” he told a committee of British lawmakers. “The disruption that would create to the economy, not only on the continent but certainly in Britain, would be huge and that we have to avoid.”

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Britain Ends Royal ‘Boycott’ of Israel

In 1986, Margaret Thatcher arrived in Israel for the first official visit to the Jewish state by a serving British prime minister. Asked at a news conference why Britain’s queen had never visited, she snapped back, “I am here.”

The Iron Lady’s response got a chuckle, but it did not satisfy the Israelis.

For 70 years successive Israeli governments have tried to persuade Britain to send a Royal on an official visit — something both Buckingham Palace and Downing Street have been reluctant to do. They have feared an official visit would drag Buckingham Palace into a diplomatic quagmire and end up infuriating Britain’s Gulf Arab allies.

But next week Prince William, the heir to the British throne, will bring to an end the royal shunning of Israel, arriving Sunday in the Middle East for a visit to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories. While members of the royal family have visited Israel before on private trips or to attend funerals of Israeli leaders, they have never made what are termed formally as official visits.

‘Occupied city’ controversy

The trip has prompted controversy because of Buckingham Palace referring to Jerusalem in the published program for the Prince’s trip as an “occupied city,” outraging Israeli politicians. Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and annexed it in a move that is not internationally recognized.

Israel’s Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Zeev Elkin, has lambasted the description, posting on his Facebook page, “It’s regrettable that Britain chose to politicize the Royal visit. Unified Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for over 3,000 years and no twisted wording of the official press release will change the reality. I’m expecting the prince’s staff to fix this distortion.”

There has been no response by Buckingham Palace to the complaint. Under international law East Jerusalem is considered “occupied” by the Israelis. But the spat over the wording of the prince’s itinerary illustrates the risks attached to the visit, say analysts.

Visit to Palestinian territories

Prince William will begin his trip to the Middle East in Jordan on June 24 and travel to Tel Aviv the following day, according to his office. He will spend three days in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ramallah in the West Bank. His visit will also mark the first time a senior member of Britain’s royal family will visit the Palestinian territories.

Visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories is testimony to the determination of the British government to show even-handedness. Prince William will also have courtesy meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his residence and later with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Royal spokesman Jason Knauf emphasized Buckingham Palace’s neutrality in remarks earlier this month, saying, “the non-political nature of his royal highness’s role — in common with all royal visits overseas — allows a spotlight to be brought to bear on the people of the region.” He noted, “The complex challenges in the region are of course well known.”

Landmark trip

But Knauf added, “Now is the appropriate time and the Duke of Cambridge is the right person to make this visit.” But he did not explain why the British government, which requested the prince take the trip, thinks this is the right time for the landmark trip.

Scores of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in recent protests at the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel is being marked. Tensions are also high with clashes taking place between Israel and Iran, with Israeli forces striking at what they see as threatening Iranian military positions in neighboring war-torn Syria.

The political temperature has remained high since U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision, announced last December, to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, breaking with the United Nations and Western allies by recognizing the city as Israel’s legitimate capital.

Some analysts in Israel and London have linked Trump’s decision to the prince’s trip, saying Britain is dispatching the heir apparent as a way to curry favor with the U.S. president and to gain goodwill in the White House. Anshel Pfeffer, a commentator for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz argues British officials are “hopeful that Netanyahu can help them in the upcoming negotiations in Washington on Britain’s crucial trade deal.”

He adds that Britain has “diminished clout on the world stage” because of Brexit and, “it must utilize whatever assets it has. And the one unique thing Britain has is a young generation of royals who are instantly recognizable across the globe.”

Other analysts see the trip as part of a broader effort by London to raise Britain’s profile as it tries to scout out new trade opportunities to replace the likely loss of trade with European countries once exits the European Union. Two-way trade between Israel and Britain last year reached $7 billion, a 25 percent increase from 2016.


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Теніс: Світоліна вийшла до чвертьфіналу турніру у Бермінгемі

Перша ракетка України Еліна Світоліна вийшла до чвертьфіналу турніру Жіночої тенісної асоціації (WTA) серії Premier (Nature Valley Open) у Бірмінгемі (Велика Британія) з призовим фондом $936,128 тис.

У другому колі змагань Світоліна, яка посідає 5-те місце у рейтингу WTA, виграла у француженки Алізе Корне (41 місце у світовому рейтингу) – 6:4, 6:2, повідомляє Twitter WTA.

Поєдинок тривав 1 годину 25 хвилин.

За вихід до півфіналу турніру Світоліна змагатиметься з переможницею матчу між хорваткою Петрою Мартич та румункою Міхаелою Бузарнеску. Останній Еліна три тижні тому програла у третьому колі Відкритого чемпіонату Франції (Ролан Гаррос) у Парижі – 3:6, 5:7.

Змагання у Бірмінгемі відбуваються на траві, провідні тенісистки проводять таким чином підготовку до неофіційного чемпіонату світу на цьому покритті – Вімблдонського турніру. Цей турнір розпочнеться на кортах Всеанглійського клубу лаун-тенісу та крокету 2 липня і триватиме до 15 липня.

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