At the Opening Gala, three honorary awards were presented, with Abdullah Al-Sadhan receiving recognition from Mohammed Al Turki, Diane Kruger being honored by juror Fatih Akin, and Ranveer Singh receiving his award from Sharon Stone.
The Red Sea International Film Festival (RedSeaIFF), in collaboration with Vox Cinemas, Neom, and the MBC Group, has officially commenced its third edition. Running from 30 November to 9 December in Jeddah, the festival opened with the world premiere of Yasir Al Yasiri’s HWJN, attended by the director and the cast, including Nour Alkhadra, Baraa Alem, Naif Aldaferi, Alanoud Saud, Mohsen Mansour, and Shaimaa Al Tayeb.
The inaugural screening witnessed the presence of Jury President Baz Luhrmann, accompanied by his distinguished panel featuring Joel Kinnaman, Freida Pinto, Amina Khalil, Paz Vega, Hana Alomair, and Fatih Akin.
Set against the backdrop of modern-day Jeddah, HWJN unfolds the tale of a kind-hearted jinn, HWJN (Baraa Alem), on a quest to reclaim his royal lineage and confront ancient evils while forging an unexpected romantic connection with Sawsan (Nour Alkhadra), a young medical student.
The Opening Night Ceremony, hosted by Raya Abi Rached and Ibrahim Alhajaj, was presided over by Jomana-Al Rashid, Chairwoman of the Red Sea Foundation, and Mohammed Al Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival. The gala included the presentation of three honorary awards to Abdullah Al-Sadhan, Diane Kruger, and Ranveer Singh, alongside a warm welcome from festival leadership and actor Sofia Vergara.
Jomana-Al Rashid said: “In the next 10 days festival-goers will experience a journey of global cinematic brilliance. We will screen 126 films from 77 countries in over 47 languages from talented directors, actors, producers, and filmmakers from every corner of the globe. At the Red Sea Film Foundation, we believe film is a transformative force and we’re committed to empowering filmmakers. Our festival exists to provide a platform for stories that can change the world.”
Mohammed Al Turki commented: “The RedSeaIFF is entering its third edition with a film which demonstrates the progressive collaboration of creative voices shaping Saudi cinema, and kicks off ten days of incredible work from every corner of the globe – as well as our thriving industry incubator Souk, and masterclasses from celebrated entertainment leaders through our In Conversations strand. We are excited to once again welcome the world of cinema to Jeddah – and see our theme of Your Story, Your Festival come to life.”
Prominent figures from the global film industry graced the festival’s Opening Ceremony, representing Saudi Arabia and the GCC. Among the luminaries in attendance were Yaacoub Alfarhan, Sara Taibah, Abdullah Alsadhan, Hira Mahmoud, Fatima Al-Banawi, Summer Shesha, Nayla Alkhaja, Hakeem Jomah, Hira Mahmood, Yasser Alsoghaf, Faysal Aldokhei, Ayman Khoja, Majed Z. Samman, Tawfik Alzaidi, and numerous others.
From the Arab world, the event drew the presence of esteemed individuals like Yousri Nasrallah, Nabila Obeid, Lebleba, Laila Eloui, Adel Karem, Burak Ozcivit, Kosai Khauli, Nicolas Mouawad, and many more.
International talents added to the star-studded affair, including Baz Luhrmann, Frieda Pinto, Joel Kinnaman, Amina Khalil, Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, Diane Kruger, Ranveer Singh, Paz Vega, Maiwenn, Zoe Saldana, Will Smith, Michelle Williams, Catherine Martin, Lucas Bravo, Alessandra Ambrosio, Ed Westwick, Amy Jackson, Rita Ora, and a host of others.
The Yusr Awards took centre stage, celebrating boldness and innovation in film. Bestowing significant accolades in fiction, documentary, and animation, these awards honour both emerging and established voices. The ceremony attracts an international audience of industry professionals and stakeholders, uniting the crème de la crème of global film talents. The Yusr Awards spotlight films from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world, Asia, and Africa, solidifying the Red Sea International Film Festival’s expansive reach. An esteemed international jury, consisting of renowned filmmakers and industry veterans in screenwriting, acting, and directing, oversees the awards presentation. Notable past recipients include Catherine Deneuve, Shah Rukh Khan, Jacques Lang, and Guy Ritchie.