The Red Sea Film Festival Brings the World’s Brightest New Productions to Jeddah

Paving the road to a new era for cinema in Saudi and the Arab region, the Red Sea Film Festival brings a wide spectrum of international productions to the heart of Jeddah. Starting with Cyrano, a musical romantic drama directed by the award-winning British director Joe Wright and written by Erica Schmidt, based on Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical of the same name, the lineup is made up of 138 star-studded films that bring a world of tales from across the globe. With the intention to support the local cinema industry, the program features 27 new films produced by Saudi up and coming wave of promising filmmakers; allowing the festival’s international audience to have a comprehensive taste of the local cinema industry as well as its full potential.

Manal Awad

The lineup’s biggest highlights include the international premiere of the political and emotional thriller Huda’s Salon, directed by the Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Hany Abu-Assad, the film was selected to open the Red Sea Competition. Inspired by real-life events, the film features Ali Suliman, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Samer Bisharat and Manal Awad.

The festival will also host the GCC premiere of Becoming. Directed by Sara Mesfer, Jawaher Alamri, Noor Alameer, Hind Al-Fahhad and Fatima Al-Banawi, the Saudi film tells the elaborate story of five women. Marking Tunisian actor Dhafer L’Abidine‘s directorial debut, Ghodwa is also written by and starring L’Abidine. The film explores an unconventional father-son relationship, where the roles become reversed.

After making waves in Cairo International Film Festival, Daughters of Abdul-Rahman by Jordanian filmmaker Zaid Abu Hamdan, is set to take part in the Red Sea Film festival. The film narrates the reunion of four estranged sisters after their father’s sudden disappearance.

Leading the Next Generation presentation, Academy-Award nominated Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle tells the story of Suzu, who enters a virtual world called “U”, where she is Belle, a musical icon. As for the Arab Gala presentation, The Alleys by writer/director Bassel Ghandour leads the selection. The film takes place in the claustrophobic back streets of Amman, Jordan, where gossip circles mercilessly and reputation is everything. Moreover, co-directed and co-written by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Memory Box is also one of the Arab Gala presentation’s most prominent selections. The film is inspired by the real-life letters of Hadjithomas to her best friend as she escaped the Lebanese Civil War for Paris.
With that in mind, the festival is set to be wrapped up with the world premiere of the star-studded Indian film, 83. Directed by Kabir Khan, the film tells the true story of the charismatic Kapil Dev, who led the Indian cricket team to its first World Cup victory in 1983.
Presided by Academy Award-winning Italian director and writer Giuseppe Tornatore, the festival’s jury includes a number of extraordinary filmmakers from around the world; such as Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, Palestinian-American director, writer, actress, and producer Cherien Dabis, Mexican film director, writer, and editor Daniela Michel and Saudi film director Abdulaziz Alshlahei.

Nayera Yasser
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