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5 things to know about the Red Sea Festival

As Saudi Arabia’s first international film festival approaches, hosted in Jeddah from March 12th to the 21st, in the west of the kingdom, here are some key points to help you navigate through this first "fortnight" of the Middle East...

Over 100 projects to discover

107 to be exact. The curated selection of short and feature films will all be screened throughout this new film festival along the Red Sea coast. The projects involved include 16 films in competition, 7 out of competition, 15 retrospectives, 5 immersive RV experiences, 11 projects from the “new Saudi cinema”, 13 short films, 23 films from the “Best of the Year” category, and over 15 experimental projects. To top it all off, five films fall under the category of “Untitled Omnibus Feature,” a platform built to support Saudi female directors in the film industry. All types of flavors for all types of cinema-lovers. 

 

A worldly selection 

A global tolerance has certainly imprinted the artistic focus of the festivals inaugural edition, featuring themes such as the advancement of women’s rights or immigration. 

The participating countries encompass representatives from both hemispheres such as Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, as well as France and Germany. The Arab world has not been overlooked, with participations from Egypt, Lebanon and of course, the host country of Saudi Arabia. 

 

 

Art from the past and present

In addition to the many films within the official selection of the festival, various artistic “happenings” will enliven the agenda. 

For instance, the exhibition made  in collaboration with the Cinémathèque Française entitled “When Fellini dreamed of Picasso,” will celebrate the 100 years since the birth of the beloved Italian director. The display illustrates how the Spanish painter greatly inspired Fellini, despite the fact that the two men never got the chance to meet. 

A very special screening of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X will also take place on March 13, with scenes shot in the holy city of Mecca. 

 

 

Impressive endowments  

This first edition of the festival will reward the artists with a generous prize of $250,000. The winner of the award for best film will be accompanied by the plump sum of $100,000. Then, in descending order, is the Best Director Award receiving $50,000, and subsequently the Audience Award winner and the Best Short Film Award. The latter prizewinners will pocket a five-month creative training program in the old city of Jeddah. 

Tempting name-dropping

As you may have already read in our columns, the jury will be chaired by none other than the famous American director and screenwriter Oliver Stone, to whom we owe numerous cinematic classics such as Scarface, Platoon, or Born Killers

 

 (Ladj Ly will be present at the festival to present his spin on of the Untouchables) 

 

The short film jury will be chaired by intercontinental cinema insiders, namely the frenchman Tim Redford, from the Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival, Tunisian actress Najla Ben Abdallah and Saudi screenwriter Ahmad Almulla