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Saudi Arabia Supports Writers Strike by Canceling ‘Women in Cinema’ Gala

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Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival (RSIFF) has canceled its annual “Women in Cinema” gala, which was scheduled to take place at the upcoming Venice Film Festival, in support of the ongoing actors and writers strike in Hollywood. 

“Due to the actors’ strike and in solidarity with the actors, we are unable to proceed with the Women in Cinema event scheduled to be held on the 1st of September in Venice, Italy,” wrote RSIFF CEO Mohammed Al-Turki on Instagram.

“We remain committed to empowering female talents in front of and behind the camera in our mission to support the industry. As we work towards future events, we genuinely hope to have the opportunity to welcome guests and celebrate Women Stories in the near future under better circumstances,” he added.


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The Hollywood strike has reached its 100-day-mark this week. The screenwriters of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have been on strike for nearly three-months, fighting the much-needed battle against a future controlled by AI that will leave millions jobless and suffocating inequality— a deafening class war within the industry and beyond. As journalist Hamiltion Nolam cleverly put it, in an article for The Guardian, “It is the sort of technology that you either put in a box, or it puts you in a box. And who is going to build the guardrails that prevent the worst abuses of AI?”

Meanwhile, the gala was launched by the Saudi Arabian film festival in 2021 to celebrate female talent within the industry. The event is held in partnership with Vanity Fair and luxury jewelry brand Chopard. In 2022, Haifaa al-Mansour, Hend Sabry, and Kaouther Ben Hania were honored at the Palazzo Rocca Contarini Corfù on the Grand Canal of Venice. Also on the guest list were Isabelle Huppert, Carla Bruni, Nadine Labaki, Sabrina Carpenter, and Sarah Gadon, among others. 

The festival’s third edition is scheduled to run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9 in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. 

As the Kingdom continues to see increased interest in its entertainment sector and a burgeoning film industry,  the Saudi Film Commission this week announced that it  is expected to debut its new industry event, the Saudi Film Confex, in Riyadh later this year. Running from Oct. 1 to 4 in BLVD Expo, the four-day conference and exhibition will lay the foundations for the Kingdom’s future film industry ventures and will welcome the world’s leading filmmakers, producers, directors, investors, and media via different entertainment “zones,” workshops, and training sessions.



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