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Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival wraps up with red carpet and awards ceremony

DJEDDAH: Another momentous occasion for Saudi Arabia’s nascent film industry, the stars gathered again on the red carpet in Jeddah on Monday for the final of the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival.

Although film screenings will continue for another two days, the gala event, which included the announcement of the festival’s winners, marked the official end of an event that just a few years ago could have imagine taking place in the Kingdom. It has only been four years since a long-standing ban on cinemas was lifted in the country.

Dozens of actors, celebrities, filmmakers and government officials turned out, including model Naomi Campbell; British actor Ed Westwick; Spanish actress Maria Pedraza; the writer “Junoon” Pedro Paula Araujo; Jack Lang, president of the Institut du monde arabe in Paris and former Minister of Culture in France; the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore; and a number of actors in the region including Basem Khayat, Hend Sabri, Maysa Maghrabi, Ahd Kamel, Dhafer Labidine and Yasmine Sabri.

“It was our very first international film festival and we learned a lot that we will now build on for our second edition,” Mohamed Al-Turki, renowned Saudi producer and chairman of the festival committee, said at the conference. closing ceremony.

“I am touched by the reactions of many guests who shared positive stories about the incredible warmth and hospitality they received from the Saudi people. The future is bright for the Saudi film industry.

The sentiments were echoed by a number of international guests, including Lang, who said: “I am very happy because the first Red Sea Film Festival is a great success and we see people are so happy. than me.

“It’s very important for Saudi cinema; we discovered many new and young talents. I am very optimistic and I am sure it will become one of the most important film festivals in the world.

During the closing ceremony, the winners of the festival competitions – including Best Film, Best Saudi Film, Best Short Film and special “Immersive” prizes for virtual reality projects – were announced. They were chosen by three juries headed by “Cinema Paradiso” director Tornatore, Egyptian director Marwan Hamad and American avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson.

The evening’s top prize, for Best Saudi Film, went to the psychological thriller “Rupture” and went to Campbell’s director Hamza Jamjoom.


Stars shine at RSIFF Gala Awards

The Golden Yusr winner for best feature film went to the drama “Brighton 4th”, by Georgian director Levan Koguashvili.

The award for the short film went to “Tala’Vision”, directed by Murad Abu Eisheh of Jordan; the Special Mention Prize went to “Farha”, a film set in Palestine directed by Jordanian filmmaker Darin J. Sallam; Adam Ali was named best actor for his performance in the film “Europa”; and the Jury Prize, presented by Syrian actor Basel Khayat, went to “Hit the Road” by Iranian director Panah Panahi.

The Audience Award winner was “You Resemble Me,” a drama that marks the directorial debut of Egyptian-American filmmaker and journalist Dina Amer.

In his acceptance speech, Amer said the award was a dream come true and added, “So many prayers have been spent at this time. This film is about our beautiful faith, Islam, which has been perverted and sold as something that it is not, through propaganda, as a religion of violence – and it is our claim that it is a beautiful faith, one of peace, and that we can tell our story on our terms.

Director David Adler received the Immersive Golden Yusr Award for his film “End of Night”, presented by Anderson. The Silver Yusr Prize went to Taiwanese director Hsin-Chien Huang for “Samsara”.

“Over the past few days, we’ve been taking a look at all 13 works of immersive cinema,” Anderson said. “Once you get used to the extra large headphones and earphones, you find that you cannot only fly or fall from tall buildings, but in this art form you step into the cinema of a new one. way.

Outside of these gravity turns, you find yourself caught in your dreams and thoughts, between intrigue and image. In immersive cinema, you use your dream body, you counteract what it is to see, what it is to tell the story in a whole new way.

According to festival organizers, 38% of the 138 films from 67 countries screened over the 10-day festival were by filmmakers, a fact that further underscores the growth of female film talent in the local industry.

Saudi actress and writer Sarah Taibah told Arab News she believes this is just the beginning for writers, directors and producers.

“A lot of female screenwriters, directors and actresses have been around for a long time now, but the spotlight is finally on them,” she said. “It’s really exciting that this (festival) is finally happening in my country, in my city.

“I’m at a loss for words and sad that this is the closing night, but it’s been a hectic, crazy and exciting week and I can’t wait to share our voices, female and male, but especially female.

“It is finally time for us to share with the whole world who we really are, outside of the stereotypical representations in the international media. “

Film screenings of the festival continue until Wednesday, December 15, when the inaugural event will conclude with a screening of the Hindi film “83”, based on the true story of the Indian cricket team’s victory. on an “unbeatable” team from the West Indies, which helped put India back on the cricket map.

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