The festival will open with 'Cyrano' by British director Joe Wright and conclude with 'Bara El Manhag' by Egyptian director Amr Salama.
Red Sea International Film Festival in partnership with Vox Cinemas, MBC Group and Saudia Airlines has announced the programme for its first edition, which will run from 6-15 December in Jeddah’s UNESCO World Heritage Site old-town (Al Balad).
The programme will feature 138 feature films and shorts from 67 countries in 34 languages from both established and emerging talent and will host 25 world premieres, 48 Arab premieres and 17 GCC premieres, with a number of filmmakers and actors in attendance for many of the films.
Cyrano, a musical romantic drama directed by award-winning British director Joe Wright and written by Erica Schmidt, based on Schmidt’s 2018 stage musical of the same name, will raise the curtain on the first edition.
The inaugural edition will close with the world premiere of acclaimed Egyptian director Amr Salama’s Bara El Manhag.
Mohammed Al-Turki, RedSeaIFF’s Chairman of the Committee said: “This is truly a landmark moment as we launch our first international film festival to celebrate original cinematic voices and showcase an extensive selection of films from around the world to local, regional and international audiences. The festival will also serve as a launchpad for young Saudi and Arab talent, support the development of our flourishing industry, introduce international Festival guests to our vibrant creative scene and bring together the global film industry to network, share knowledge and forge partnerships. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Jeddah for a packed programme of screenings, events and much more.”
The slate of new Saudi films will be shown alongside the best of new international cinema, featuring 27 new films from an exciting wave of Saudi filmmakers. The lineup of features and shorts will open a window for international guests to explore all aspects of Saudi society, and in turn, provide a vital platform for Saudi filmmakers to present their work on the big screen to the global film industry and local audiences.
Alongside the Red Sea Competition, Red Carpet Galas and Special Presentations, the festival will host a range of cinema in the following sections: Festival Favourites, New Saudi/New Cinema, Red Sea Treasures, Red Sea Arab and International Spectacular, Red Sea Next Generation, Red Sea Immersive and Red Sea Episodic.
The Arab and international competition will showcase the highest creative achievements from an array of filmmakers in its Red Sea Feature and Shorts Competition sections. The lineup of 18 shorts and 16 features showcases the most compelling, unique and impressive work produced in the past year. Winners in each competition will be selected by esteemed juries and announced on December 13.
Edouard Waintrop, Artistic Director of the RedSeaIFF, added: “We are delighted to announce the incredible slate of films being presented at the inaugural edition of the Festival. To be able to start so strongly, with such a wide array of incredible storytelling from both the Arab world and further afield, is significant and speaks to the promising future of this Festival, both this year and beyond. The slate also underscores the diversity of cinema being presented at the Festival, with authentic stories from all over the world coming from both established and emerging filmmakers.”
The festival will also celebrate women in film, with two very special talents being honoured. The first is Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, best known for her debut, Wadjda, the first feature film to be shot entirely in the kingdom. She has since gone on to scale the international filmmaking scene, recently directing Ethan Hawke in TV miniseries The Good Lord Bird.
The second honouree is acclaimed Egyptian actress Laila Eloui. Best known for her roles in I Love Cinema and Girl’s Love, she will join the festival for a masterclass to unpack her fascinating career. Red Sea Festival attendees will also be able to join an acting masterclass with Eloui, who will share her knowledge and stories from her fascinating career.
Other scheduled guests will include French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve and Egyptian actress and singer Yousra, whose incredible body of work stretches to more than 80 films. She will grace a masterclass to discuss her distinguished career, one that has earned her more than 50 awards from festivals around the globe.
There will also be three in-conversations that will give Festival-goers insight into the careers and achievements of Haifaa Al-Mansour, Tunisian actress Hend Sabry and acclaimed Franco Argentinian director Gaspar Noé, and Lebanese directors and artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.
The festival is also proud to honour Jack Lang, President of the Institut du Monde Arabe and former Minister of Culture and Minister of Education, in recognition of his incredible efforts to promote relations between Saudi Arabia and France and integral role in building a cultural bridge between the Arab world and France.
Festival-goers will have the opportunity to attend Red Carpet Galas and watch standout, compelling films from world-renowned directors and featuring stellar performances at the Red Sea’s purpose-built, 900-seat Al Balad auditorium.
Hany Abu-Assad’s political and emotional thriller Huda’s Salon will open the Red Sea Competition on December 7. Joining the lineup are Saudi directors Sara Mesfer, Jawaher Alamri, Noor Alameer, Hind Al-Fahhad and Fatima Al-Banawi with the GCC premiere of Becoming, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter, The Alleys, the directorial debut of writer/director Bassel, Memory Box, co-directed and co-written by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, French-Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch’s Casablanca Beats, Ghodwa, the directorial debut of Tunisian actor Dhafer L’Abidine, Daughters of Abdul-Rahman, by Jordanian filmmaker Zaid Abu Hamdan, Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle, Giuseppe Tornatore’s Ennio, Ana Lily Amirpour’s fantasy thriller Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, and The Colour Roomdirected by Claire McCarthy
The Red Sea Souk, the Festival’s industry market, will offer a packed programme of curated events to foster co-production, international distribution, and new business opportunities. It will run from December 8-11, alongside the film festival.
The Red Sea Souk will consist of theProject Market, which will see pitching and meetings for a selection of 23 films in development, and Works-in-Progress Screenings, a selection of rough-cut screenings made up of screenings of rough cuts of a selection of films in post-production. All films in the Red Sea Souk will be deliberated on by two separate juries. TheProject Market Jury will consist of Saudi poet and Festival director Ahmed Almulla, American producer Alix Madigan, and German producer Thanassis Karathanos, while Festival director Alex Moussa Sawadogo, Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, and French filmmaker Ladj Ly make up the Works-in-Progress Jury. More than 800,000 USD will be awarded to the projects selected in the Red Sea Souk Awards.
The Souk will present seven films in market screenings looking for distribution in market screenings, titles include Junoon directed by Maan B. and Yaser B. Khalid, Soula directed by Salah Issaad, Sharaf directed by Samir Nasr, Take Me To The Cinema directed by Albaqer Jaafar, Ghodwa directed by Dhaffer L’Abidine and Daughters of Abdul-Rahman directed by Zaid Abu Hamdan.
The Red Sea Souk will also welcome a series of key players to lead discussions on a range of the most current topics including the global content boom and demand for content creators, the post-pandemic industry, and sustainable media production. Highlights include a masterclass with Andrea Chignoli, Chile’s most prolific fiction and nonfiction film editor, who will lead a masterclass on editing the creative documentary. A conversation moderated by Rashid Abdelh Hamid of the Palestinian Film Institute (PFI) with prominent Palestinian filmmakers Hany Abu- Assad, Annemarie Jacir, and Rashid Masharawi will explore their influences and inspirations, both political and personal, that have shaped contemporary Palestinian cinema.
The Souk will also showcase over 20 local and regional exhibiting companies including, buyers, sales agents, film commissions, distributors, and exhibitors.
Shivani Pandya Malhotra, Managing Director of the RedSeaIFF, stated: “The festival is not only a celebration of cinema but an important opportunity for the Saudi film industry as a whole. The Festival offers not only an international stage to Saudi film professionals, but also demonstrates the abundance of talent and opportunities that Saudi Arabia can offer to the international film industry. The Red Sea Souk, in particular, will play such an important role in global exchange and partnerships between the international and Saudi film industries.”
Immediately following the Souk on December 12-13, the festival will hold Talent Days, a two-day initiative designed to support the development of the next generation of Saudi filmmakers from Saudi from December 12-13. Tand the GGC will offer a packed programme ranging from short film platforms, development initiatives, workshops as well as networking sessions with industry professionals.