Red Sea Film Festival a ‘breakthrough’ for Arab and international films, says Jack Lang

DJEDDAH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) discussed its three new films at a press conference at the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival on Wednesday.

The conference was followed by the local and international press. The center was represented by Tariq Khawaji, Ithra Chief Librarian and Program Cultural Consultant and Reading Program Supervisor, and Majed Samman, Ithra Performing Arts and Film Manager, who is also a filmmaker, producer, actor and Saudi editor.

The three films under the Ithra production banner include a feature film, “Sea of ​​Sands”, by acclaimed Egyptian screenwriter and producer Mohamed Hefzy, a leading industry figure in the Middle East and Africa who wrote, produces and co-produces nearly 40 feature films in Egypt, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Arab world.

The second film is “Valley Road”, a Saudi film, including its cast, crew and location. It will be shot in Faifa and Soudah in the Kingdom’s southern region by award-winning Saudi independent filmmaker Khalid Fahad.

The third is a feature-length documentary titled “Anti-Cinema”, on the Kingdom’s cinematographic heritage, directed by Ali Saeed and Hassan Saeed. “Sea of ​​Sands” and “Valley Road” are both slated for release in 2023.

Samman, who is the producer of “Sea of ​​Sands” and “Valley Road,” told Arab News about “Anti-Cinema,” a documentary that brings Saudi cinema history to the big screen and is the winner. of the Ithra Content Commission Initiative. , currently in post-production and should soon hit the international film festival circuit.

“Anti-Cinema will be the most controversial play non-Saudi viewers will ever watch. It tells the story of cinema from the 1940s and 1950s through to the Red Sea Film Festival today. So for us, and especially for our time, people are going to say, oh my god, I remember this, I remember that, it’s very nostalgic.

He added: “But to the outside world, they would say they didn’t know they had cinemas in Saudi Arabia and I didn’t know they were making movies. It’s going to be an eye opener for a lot of people. So it’s going to be very controversial.

“The two films that we are going to premiere in 2023 are the first of many films, and they will show the world and Saudi Arabia how great films are made. And I can’t wait for people to see it.

We really want to give these Saudi filmmakers as much opportunity as possible to join an international film and expose them to the process of making, and that would give them a boost so they can decide whether they want to be filmmakers or not. .

Majed Samman, Director of Performing Arts and Cinema of Ithra

During the conference, Ithra announced the opening of registrations for a training program designed to take the Saudi film industry to the next level.

The program aims to elevate local talent to a higher level with international appeal. Samman told Arab News: “The program targets Saudi national talent aged 18 and over. We have defined eight different categories for them to join us. Participants must submit their CV; they have to submit their previous work, their portfolio, and then we have to decide with the judges.

Samman added: “We really want to give these Saudi filmmakers as much opportunity as possible to join an international film and expose them to the filmmaking process, and that would give them a boost so they can decide if they want to be filmmakers or not. “

The center has also opened registrations for the “Sea of ​​Sands” viewing program, linked to its strategic commitment to nurturing and developing talent in the Kingdom’s creative industries.

Ithra Film Productions has helped dozens of filmmakers bring their dreams to life. One of the Kingdom’s largest film producers, he has produced 20 films, 15 of which have received local, regional and international awards.

“We have produced more films in Saudi Arabia than any other entity, including 20 films to date for three years now, two feature films and 18 short films. Most of these movies are now on Netflix, Shahad, and Saudi Airlines. We want to keep making films, and mostly independent films, because like I said, we want to make the best quality films that would cost a lot of money.

Ithra is the Kingdom’s premier cultural and creative destination for talent development and intercultural experiences. It is an innovative and interactive public space for workshops, performances, events, exhibitions and experiences.

James C. Tibbs