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Down and out in Saudi Arabia.

Down and out in Saudi Arabia. (photo)

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I’ve never seen a film from Saudi Arabia and, thanks to Jeffrey Fleishman’s fine article in the L.A. Times, now I know why: the country only produced its first feature in 2006, and there are no theaters to show movies in anyway.

In his report on how tough filmmakers there have it, Fleishman focuses on the Talashi Film Group, which is pretty much just ten dudes who make short films however they can and gather in an apartment regularly to chat and review each other’s work.

The story is bleak. The filmmakers import actresses from Syria because Saudi women aren’t allowed to be alone with men without their husbands or relatives present. When one of Saudi Arabia’s rare features — “Menahi” — was screened before mixed-sex audiences in Riyadh, fundamentalist protests shut it down. The country’s only film festival — the Jeddah Film Festival — is no more for the same reason. Film fans have gotten used to flying to the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain for weekends fixes of marathon film viewing.

It’s difficult to know what to say when a country lets people buy American DVDs and choose from over 500 uncensored satellite channels but doesn’t have any movie theaters. In contrast: in Iran, DVDs and satellite dishes are illegal (if ubiquitous), but at least they have a solid commercial cinema industry, not to mention a distinctive and important art film movement.

The article says the Talashi crew look forward to Dubai’s Gulf Film Festival every year as their best outlet, but Talashi member Mohammed Khalif dreams of getting to Berlin.

[Photo: Still from Talashi short “Shadow”]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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