US film diplomacy program lends support to Saudi Arabian movie industry

Renowned American writer and director Anu Valia (R) with Niko Ruokosuo, general manager of Nebras Films, conducting film competitions in Riyadh. (AN photo)
Updated 19 March 2018
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US film diplomacy program lends support to Saudi Arabian movie industry

RIYADH: The US Embassy and the American Film Showcase, which brings award-winning contemporary American documentaries, movies and know-how to audiences and filmmakers around the world, have teamed up with Riyadh-based Nebras Films to hold workshops, screenwriters’ pitch competitions, and group discussions on the Saudi film industry.
Anu Valia, a writer, director, producer, and actor who has created and appeared in videos for MTV, IFC, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Adult Swim, CollegeHumor, Above Average, and Vox Media, was the anchor of the event in Riyadh as an ambassador of the American Film Showcase. Valia, who arrived in the Kingdom early this month, has spent 10 days in Jeddah and Riyadh conducting film workshops, discussions, and attending film screenings.
She will also hold group discussions, and attend film screenings during her stay in the eastern city of Dhahran from March 18 to 22. The screenwriter’s pitch competition was conducted in the premises of Nebras Films in Riyadh on Saturday. A tour of Nebras Films facility for Valia and for the US embassy officials was conducted by Niko Ruokosuo, general manager of Nebras, who also welcomed the guests and led the event with US embassy officials.
Valia expressed her joy over her interaction with Saudi filmmakers in the Kingdom and said: “I have met wonderful artists, film-makers and storytellers in the Kingdom, and I am really excited. This is my first visit to the Middle East, and I have seen that there is so much excitement and love for movies.” Valia added that she looks forward to world-class infrastructure and the release of films in cinemas in Saudi Arabia.
“It seems it is happening quickly with local film crews here,” said Valia, adding that she has met some Saudi directors and actors. “There is always a good range of stories from any particular place. No one story speaks for the entire nation,” she said, referring to the diverse range of film stories from Saudi Arabia. “I can feel the energy, the real energy and the excitement among filmmakers here in the Kingdom.”
During her stay in Jeddah and Riyadh, Valia held workshops on the craft of making movies, including storytelling structure, clips from films, breakdowns on writing characters, and directing scenes and actors. She also sat down with Saudi filmmakers to watch their films and discuss the techniques and themes used in their work. She is excited to help build upon the US-Saudi filmmaking collaboration and develop a stronger network between filmmakers in the two countries.
Valia had her most recent short film, “Lucia, Before and After,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize for US Fiction. The American Film Showcase, funded by a grant from the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, highlights the value of film in fostering understanding and cooperation, dialogue and debate.


Al-Jubeir meets UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Updated 26 April 2019
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Al-Jubeir meets UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

LONDON: Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir met the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the British Foreign Office in London on Thursday.

The two sides held talks during which they reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries and regional and international developments.

The meeting was attended by the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber.

Al-Jubeir also met with Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt and a number of UK Parliament members at the Saudi Embassy in London.

Earlier, Hunt highlighted the strategic partnership between Britain and Saudi Arabia and said that it would help British efforts to end the war in Yemen. “The strategic relationship that the UK has with Saudi Arabia is what allows us to have a huge influence in bringing about peace in Yemen,” he said.