Censor and sensibility: Saudi scriptwriter aims to encourage local filmmakers

A Saudi family accompanies their child, who is wearing a Jason Voorhees hockey mask during an entertainment event in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2018
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Censor and sensibility: Saudi scriptwriter aims to encourage local filmmakers

  • Afnan Linjawi explains how things have changed from 1896 to 2000, and why
  • The Jeddah native has written and directed stage plays, as well as having several scripts under her belt

JEDDAH: Saudi filmmakers should not be discouraged by censorship in the Kingdom, according to scriptwriter Afnan Linjawi.

Linjawi was leading a seminar organized by the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Art (SASCA) and gave a talk about censorship at home and in Hollywood.

The events have been held since the beginning of the year and cover cinema-related topics.

“We hold these seminars because we want to introduce the cinema industry to people here, to educate them about the workings of the industry, how to look at it from a business and artistic perspective and how to get them into the industry,” Linjawi told Arab News.

The Jeddah native has written and directed stage plays, as well as having several scripts under her belt.

“It is a positive time for Saudi filmmakers right now. Cinemas are opening and I hope cinemas continue to flourish and to open and stay. I hope that we get to see a more national flavor of films and not just a copy and paste of the Hollywood format, because I believe films are an important vehicle for cultural advancement. So we want to create something that’s ours as Saudis, as people living in Saudi Arabia.” 

She gave an overview of Hollywood censorship at the seminar, explaining how it had changed from 1896 to 2000 and why.

Hollywood was not as liberal as people thought because there had long been rules that affected who could watch what films at the cinema, she said. 

Violent scenes and sexual content often determined if scenes were to be censored, she added, but the advent of sites including Netflix meant that people had greater access than ever to movies with no need for a cinema.

Censorship was no excuse to go into the film industry, she said, because the limitations of what was acceptable changed in line with a country’s political and economic status.

There was no way of knowing what might upset people and what a government might do about it, she added, and that film culture could still grow even with censorship.

“My message is more directed to filmmakers who may feel discouraged by the idea of censorship in our country and I just want to encourage them that it should not be an excuse.”

“As a big fan of Hollywood movies I found the talk was very inspirational and helped me a lot in getting the concept of censorship and to what extent it can be applied,” said audience member Abdulla Omar.

Linjawi’s work can be found here: www.screenwriterafnan.com


Saudi king arrives in Egypt on official visit

Updated 23 February 2019
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Saudi king arrives in Egypt on official visit

  • King Salman will head the Saudi delegation at the EU-Arab states summit
  • Ways to strengthen Saudi-Egyptian ties will be discussed during the king’s visit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman arrived in Egypt Saturday on an official visit, during which he will attend the EU-Arab Summit, the Saudi Press Agency reported.  

The king will head the Saudi delegation at the summit, which is due to be held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. 

The two-day summit is billed as a starting point for the Arab League and the EU to boost cooperation on shared strategic priorities including migration, security and climate change.

Economic development, the Palestinian question, and the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen are also up for discussion.

The king's visit is a response to an invitation from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who will host the two-day summit.

Ways to strengthen Saudi-Egyptian ties will be discussed during the visit.