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Saudi Arabia’s Long Awaited Red Sea Film Festival is Almost Here

And it’s happening at Jeddah’s historic Al Balad district

Red Sea Film Festival’s inaugural edition might’ve been postponed due to the pandemic, but the organization never stopped following in its mission of highlighting Saudi Arabia’s and the region’s burgeoning film scene. 

From a local aspiring filmmakers’ competition to a retrospective honoring Egyptian director Khairy Beshara, the organisation’s absence wasn’t felt, and for good reason. Now, the Kingdom’s first film festival finally has a date. 

Red Sea Film Festival is set to run between November 11 and 20, and it won’t be just another virtual event. The festival is determined to bring together local film lovers, directors, and international film industry leaders to the heart of the UNESCO world heritage site of Jeddah’s historic Al Balad district.

Entitled ‘Metamorphosis’, the theme is a celebration of cinema’s ability to adapt to the post-industrial and digital era. The programme, which will be revealed in the coming months, will focus on the revival of the Kingdom’s film scene two years after lifting its 35-year ban on cinema. The role of women in the industry is also at the core of the conversation.

To make it happen, the organization has recruited A-list Saudi and international curators, film specialists, and industry veterans. Joining from the team of Dubai International Film Festival are Managing Director Shivani Pandya and Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics Antoine Khalife. 

Film Critic Kaleem Aftab, producer Jumana Zahid and manager Zain Zedan will lead various initiatives including film competitions, the Red Sea Lodge—the foundation’s incubator for Saudi and Arab filmmakers—and the Red Sea Souk, the festival’s industry platform for distributors, sales agents, and producers.

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