A selection of new films from the world's festival circuit will be shown as part of the programme in Jeddah.
Red Sea International Film Festival has revealed its Festival Favorites selection. These films have been chosen from the world’s best film festivals and will be screened as part of the Red Sea International Film Festival’s programming, bringing the best up-and-coming films from some of the world’s new talents to Jeddah.
The Festival Favorites selection includes a round-up of the year’s international hits from both audiences and critics, as well as films discovered and specially curated by the festival team.
Speaking about the selected films, Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programmes and Film Classics, said: “Arab directors showcase an extraordinary selection of both daring and original stories in the Festival Favorites selection. The subjects are often challenging and concerning but told with such accuracy and authenticity they bring these intimate subjects such as identity, revolution, patriotism to the screen in all forms of the genre with a finesse of filmmaking that is subtle and perfect in form.”
Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for RedSeaIFF, added: “We are committed to supporting fresh talent and fostering greater recognition of diversity in world cinema. The selection reimagines the landscape of cinema and highlights the impact of African and Asian filmmakers in their own countries and also across Europe and North America.”
The 19 films chosen as Festival Favorites include Ajoomma, by Singaporean director He Shuming. The Oscar-submitted film, inspired by soap operas, tells the story of a widow, an over-protective mother, and K-drama obsessive Mrs Lim.
Oscar-nominated writer and director Basil Khalil’s latest film, A Gaza Weekend, is a humorous and action-packed film about an English journalist, Michael, who finds himself trapped in occupied Palestinian territories after a fast-mutating virus is released from an infectious diseases’ laboratory.
Salam, a documentary by Houda Benyamina, Diam’s and Anne Cissé, centres around the French rap star Melanie Georgiades (aka Diam’s), who converted to Islam, turned her back on celebrity, and devoted herself to an orphanage charity.
Director Firas Khoury presents Alam, a coming-of-age film set in the occupied Palestinian territories. The film explores themes of nationalism, propaganda, the symbolism of flags, and the true meaning of freedom.
Godard Seul Le Cinema is a documentary by Cyrille Leuthy about the French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard, who left a legacy of around 140 films on his death. Leuthy’s documentary paints a portrait of the human side of this obsessive cineaste, using interviews from many people who worked with him coupled with clips from Godard’s films.
In a film based on real-life events, Alice Diop dramatises the trial of a Senegalese student who drowned her child in the sea near the town of Saint-Omer in 2013. The film, titled Saint Omer, re-casts Diop’s own first-hand experience of the trial in the character of Rama, a literary academic writing a paper on Medea, the figure from classical mythology who kills her own children.
Based on a graphic novel by Marya Zarif, Dounia And The Princess Of Aleppo wraps the hard facts of the refugee experience inside a feast of fantasy, with an animation style inspired by Syrian tradition and embellished with oud and flute music. The story follows six-year-old Dounia who is forced to leave her home in Aleppo after her father is taken away in the middle of the night.
In another work of fiction inspired by fact, Under The Fig Trees evokes the sights, smells, and sisterly gossip of a team of fruit-pickers who travel each day to an orchard in northern Tunisia.
The Blue Caftan is a story that revolves around the relationship between Halim and Mina, a hardworking and affectionate couple who make traditional Moroccan caftans.
Elements of film noir and a murder mystery thriller combine in Youssef Chebi’s Ashkal, which is set in the eerie, abandoned Gardens of Carthage development in north Tunis.
The Gravity, by director Cedric Ido, combines gritty French urban drama with a Japanese anime aesthetic in a unique combination. At the centre of the story are brothers Daniel, a professional athlete, and Joshua, a wheelchair-bound drug kingpin. Tension mounts when their former friend Christophe returns from prison, while under a reddening sky, eight planets are aligning and sending gravity haywire.
Riceboy Sleeps is a study of a Korean mother and son as they assimilate to life in Canada, which won the top prize in the Platform section of the Toronto International Film Festival.
In Living, a reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 masterpiece Ikiru set in London, Mr Williams (Bill Nighy) is a management functionary in a council planning office. For 30 years, he has ensured that there is no antagonism and no voices raised in his office, sliding anything that requires action – such as a mother’s petition for a playground – to the bottom of his in-tray. Only when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer does it hits him how much of his life he has squandered. He resolves to do something worthwhile: get that playground built.
Set in Romania in 1972, Metronom centres on 17-year-old Ana, who is more concerned about a boy she likes than politics but finds herself at a classmate’s house party listening to the Doors on Radio Free Europe as her friends make plans to resist Communism.
Through an artistic series of narrative jumps shot in black-and-white, Korean director Hong Sangsoo portrays a selection of conversations within the same apartment block in his rich but perplexing film Walk Up. A film that centres on a director trying to come to terms with the pandemic forcing him to stay at home for an extended period of time.
Falcon Lake is a sensitive story of first love by actress-turned-director Charlotte Le Bon.
In Sonne, Kurdish-Austrian director Kurdwin Ayub draws on her own life experiences to tell the story of Yesmin, who wears a hijab in public but also films her best friends Bella and Nati twerking in her mother’s prayer garments for TikTok. When they suddenly go viral – Yesmin’s mother is appalled, but her father proudly shows the clip to his friends – the girls being asked to perform in costume at Kurdish parties.
Based on real events, Fatih Akin’s film Rhinegold moves with infectious energy and a rocking soundtrack through the life of German rapper Xatar.
The documentary A.K.A. follows the lives of three Indian lookalikes, or ‘duplicates’, who make a living by imitating Bollywood megastars.
The films will be screened during the Red Sea International Film Festival, taking place between the 1st and 10th of December 2022 in Jeddah.The best new films from the world’s festival circuit, hand-picked by the RSIFF team and shown as part of the Festival programme in Jeddah