17 Dhu al-Qi'dah 1445 - 25 May 2024
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Eye of Dubai
Business & Money | Tuesday 7 November, 2023 9:45 am |


The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) has announced details of this year’s selection of films from Saudi Arabia, alongside the Arab Spectacular and Red Sea: Competition features strands. Collectively, these strands will showcase the rich and varied work by established and new filmmakers from the region, including documentaries and titles produced by the Red Sea Film Foundation. 


The third edition of the RSIFF - running from 30 November to 9 December - provides a unique and powerful platform for celebrating film, connecting cultures, and expanding horizons while welcoming stories from all walks of life. It is a comprehensive cinematic platform that promotes diversity in all facets of filmmaking, elevating it beyond just a film screening event. These ideas of diversity, connection, and cultural exchange are manifested in this year’s theme; “Your Story, Your Festival”. 


While celebrating cinema on a global scale, Red Sea IFF throws a spotlight on films made in the MENA region and includes 36 feature length and short films from Saudi Arabia. The line-up includes internationally recognized talent plus new voices; from Maïwenn’s historical romance Jeanne du Barry, starring Johnny Depp which opened at Cannes with support from the Red Sea International Film Financing arm to Kaouther Ben Hania with Four Daughtersnominated as Tunisia’s submission for International Feature at the forthcoming Academy Awards. Further directors selected for Academy Award submission by their countries to feature at the RSIFF are Amjad Al Rasheed with gripping thriller Inshallah A Boy, and Zarra Kahn with his horror debut In Flames, Amanda Nell Eu’s Tiger Stripes and Baloji’s Omen, highlights of the Red Sea: Competition. 


The Arab Spectacular will present 11 titles demonstrating an inspiring breadth of subject and genres. Tamer Ruggli’s acclaimed debut Back to Alexandria stars Nadine Labaki and Fanny Ardant as a daughter and mother, overcoming estrangement.Music video director Yasir Alyasiri makes his intergalactic debut with HWJN, starring Baraa Alem and Nour Alkhadra. Meshal Al Jaser presents a humorous thriller with NAGA, which follows a teenage girl left stranded in a desert racing against the clock to meet her curfew, pursued by a rabid cameland  the Godus Brothers present Fever Dream, about a retired football star and his daughter searching for social media acclaim.


The prestigious Red Sea: Competition will screen 17 films, narrative and documentary, featuring films from Asia, Africa, and the Arab world. It presents innovative filmmaking and great storytelling, with the prizes awarded by an international jury, which this year will be presided over by the renowned filmmaker Baz Lurhmann. Norah, the first production to be shot entirely in the AlUla region of Saudi Arabia by Tawfik Alzaidi will world premiere, screening alongside Backstage, the feature debut by directorial duo Afef Ben Mahmoud and Khalil Benkirane about the vibrant, behind the scenes tale of a touring dance troupe. Farah Nabulsi presents her critically praised debut The Teacher,shot in the West Bank, starring Imogen Poots; Six Feet Over from Karim Bensalah tells of the son of an Algerian diplomat who decides to work for Muslim undertakers, while Parviz Shahbazi’s visually arresting feature Roxana from Iran looks at a man who tries to better himself for love.


Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea Film Foundation and Shivani Pandya Malhotra, Managing Director of the Red Sea International Film Festival said: “Our theme this year of Your Stories, Your Festival, is borne out by the incredible selection of films from the region – which spans both masters as well as debut filmmakers who are testament to the wealth of talent on offer from this part of the world, which is so important to showcase in all its diversity. We feel it is particularly timely to use the medium of film to look at what connects us, and to give a platform to the voices and experiences of people in our region and beyond to foster insight, understanding and compassion. We look forward to once again welcoming the global film community in Jeddah for our third edition.” 


Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programs, says, “The Red Sea: Competition highlights the complexities of the modern world, as societal norms change, which presents a challenge to families, patriarchy and peaceful co-existence. These films from Asia and Africa, including the Arab world, are a stark reminder of the many issues facing humanity today.” 


Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs and Film Classics says, “The vibrancy of Arab cinema, particularly in Saudi Arabia, stands as a testament to the region's flourishing film industry. Arab filmmakers boldly confront sensitive themes, weaving together narratives that explore family dynamics, patriotism, and the rediscovery of values.  Arab cinema is increasingly mirroring the realities of everyday life. In addition to a programme which celebrates the richness of Arab, African and Asian filmmaking talent – we are proud to present projects from 31 female filmmakers overall, backing our commitment to women in cinema.”


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