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


Kiswa of Kaaba raised in preparation for Hajj

Updated 19 July 2019
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Kiswa of Kaaba raised in preparation for Hajj

  • Up to 50 people worked on the raising of Kiswa this year
  • The Kiswa is replaced with white cloth during Hajj

DUBAI: The lower part of Kaaba’s Kiswa, the black cloth draped around the holy shrine, was raised 3 meters in preparation for the new Hajj season and was replaced with white cloth instead, Reasah Al-Harmain said on Friday.
The procedure is done every year before the Hajj season in order to protect the Kiswa, as some pilgrims touch and pull on the black cloth when they circumambulate the Kaaba.

Up to 50 technicians and specialists oversaw the annual process, head of the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Ahmad bin Muhammad Al-Mansouri said.
What some pilgrims do to the Kiswa stems from wrongful beliefs, which is why the black cloth is raised and replaced with white textile during Hajj, he added.
The original Kiswa will be draped again after the Hajj season concludes, Al-Mansouri said.