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