The films are part of Ithra’s commitment to nurture and develop talent across the Kingdom’s creative industries.
Ithra, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, has announced two new film productions at Cannes Film Festival.
Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy – whose films include 2016 Cannes Un Certain Regard opener Clash, 2018 Cannes Competition title Yomeddine, and 2020 Sundance pic Luxor – is teaming with Ithra on Sea of Sands (working title), a coming-of-age story centred around a young orphan Bedouin and a camel who form a special bond and embark on a journey across Saudi Arabia.
Ithra is also producing Saudi filmmaker Khalid Fahad’s Valley Road. The film follows the odyssey of Ali, an autistic young man who gets lost on the way to see a doctor in a nearby village. Ali finds himself alone in the middle of nowhere, where a series of obstacles and challenges cannot stop him from discovering the world ahead of him.
They follow the successful international release of Ithra’s first commissioned film Joud, which is described as “an unconventional meditation on the cycle of life” and an “ancient poem for modern times.”
The films are part of Ithra’s commitment to nurture and develop talent across the Kingdom’s creative industries. Both movies, which are being produced under the Ithra Film Productions banner, are scheduled for release in 2023. Ithra said the cast and crew for both would consist of aspiring Saudi talent, which would nurture a generation of film creatives.
Speaking about the collaboration, Mohamed Hefzy said: “Ithra has played a significant role in supporting independent filmmakers from Saudi Arabia at a critical time just as the Kingdom’s booming film industry begins to take shape. I am thrilled to work with them and all the Saudi and Arab talent who will be joining this exciting project.” The film is set to be filmed in various locations around Saudi Arabia.
Majed Z Samman, Head of Performing Arts & Cinema at Ithra, and a producer on both projects, added: “We support the Kingdom’s growing film industry by nurturing homegrown talent and fostering cinema and filmmaking in Saudi Arabia. We are honoured to announce our next two projects at one of the world’s most prestigious film fairs as part of the Saudi Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival.”
Hefzy has written, produced and co-produced nearly 40 feature films in Egypt, the US, the UK, and the Arab world.
Apart from Ithra’s commissioned films, the centre is also the driving force behind several initiatives supporting the Kingdom’s film industry.