Nearly four years after the opening of cinemas, the first major film festival will be launched in Saudi Arabia on Monday, as the inaugural session of the “Red Sea Film Festival” will be held in Jeddah between December 6 and 15, and it includes 138 long and short films from 67 countries in 34 languages, and launches the day after the first organization Formula One race in the Kingdom.
Among the works participating in the festival, the Jordanian film “The Hara” by director Basil Ghandour, which impressed critics, in addition to non-Arab films, including “Syrano” by Joe Wright and “83” about India’s victory in the Cricket World Cup in 1983.
The festival also honors director and producer Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first Saudi female director. She was especially known for her movie “Wadjda” in 2012, the first feature film to be filmed in the Kingdom, and it won several international awards. After that, Al-Mansour directed films in Hollywood.
It comes after the festival doubled Saudi film and television business dramatically in recent years, including productions huge budgets.
The festival, in which international and Arab representatives are supposed to participate, will be among the largest in the Middle East, and it hopes to replace the Dubai Film Festival in the Gulf, which stopped holding three years ago.
Today, there are more than 39 cinemas in the Kingdom, with more than 385 screens, operated by five companies.
And last week, the Saudi Film Authority launched a strategy to develop the Saudi film industry, which includes 19 initiatives aimed at creating a great movement in the film sector in the Kingdom, providing an infrastructure for film production and empowering Saudi talents and capabilities.
According to Abdel Rahman, a media official at the Cairo Film Festival, the most important in the Middle East, “It is important that Saudi cinema compete locally within Saudi Arabia,” noting that “most of the artistic activities in the Riyadh Festival are imported from other countries.”