Pakistani film director hopes to repeat Saudi premiere success with new movie

Imran Raza Kazmi pictured at the premiere of 'Parchi' in Riyadh alongside Prince Abdul Aziz. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 19 February 2019

Pakistani film director hopes to repeat Saudi premiere success with new movie

  • “Parchi” became the first Pakistani film, to be released in the Kingdom

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani film director is hoping his new rom-com can premiere in Saudi Arabia to the same packed houses as his last movie did a year ago.

Azfar Jafri said he wanted his fourth film “Heer Maan Ja” to open in Riyadh to an even bigger response than its predecessor “Parchi” when it premiered in the capital in January last year.

“Parchi” became the first Pakistani film, and one of only a handful of international movies, to be released in the Kingdom after the lifting of a near 40-year ban on cinemas. Its screening marked another milestone for a raft of modernization and cultural reforms in the Kingdom, spearheaded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“To say it (the ‘Parchi’ premiere) was the best experience is an understatement,” said its producer and CEO of IRK films, Imran Raza Kazmi. “I was completely overwhelmed with the amazing response we received. We weren’t expecting a crowd of that intensity. The number of shows and seats had to be increased.”

He said the release of “Parchi,” which tells the story of a group of friends who hit trouble when one of them owes a gangster money, had paved the way for future Pakistani filmmakers to showcase their work in Saudi Arabia.

Kazmi recently forged an agreement with a Saudi production company to distribute Pakistani movies in the Kingdom.

“We have some interesting projects lined up and we will be recruiting talent from there (Saudi Arabia) as well, so that should be interesting,” Kazmi told Arab News. 

Saudi cinemas were closed in the early 1980s, but in 2017 the government said it would lift the ban and open around 350 movie theaters with more than 2,500 screens by 2030, generating nearly $1 billion in annual box office sales.

“It is a matter of pride to be the torchbearer of sharing entertainment, culture and our unique voice with audiences in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Jafri said. 

Last year’s “Parchi” premiere was held at the Pakistani embassy in Riyadh and was attended by a host of senior officials.

Jafri said: “I believe it’s a good time for the Pakistani film industry.”

MiSK, Qiddiya team up for internship program 

Updated 25 March 2019

MiSK, Qiddiya team up for internship program 

  • Interns will work on entertainment mega-project
  • Program open to university seniors and new graduates

RIYADH: A new internship program for young Saudis has been launched in the Kingdom, following a partnership between Misk Foundation and the Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC).

The program runs from June 16 to Aug. 31, 2019, and provides an opportunity for university seniors and recent graduates to be part of Qiddiya, an entertainment mega-project located 40 minutes from Riyadh.

Interns will have the chance to work at Qiddiya’s corporate offices alongside professionals from around the world and will be placed across 12 departments.

They will learn and develop skills that are required to succeed in their professional lives.

They will also gain exposure to QIC’s culture and learn from executives with over 20 years of experience across several sectors. 

QIC CEO Mike Reininger said: “We are contributing directly to the Saudi Vision (2030 reform plan) by creating a richer lifestyle for Saudi citizens while spurring innovation in the creative, hospitality and entertainment sectors. This unique opportunity allows students and fresh graduates to experience what it takes to be part of the change in Saudi by giving them the chance to work alongside a group of both local and international seasoned professionals. Thanks to this partnership with MiSK, we will be training the next generation of industry leaders.” 

Application to the program is open for those with fewer than two years of professional experience. Candidates must show strong academic credentials and submit a short video as part of their application.

King Salman led the Qiddiya ground-breaking ceremony in front of a global audience last April.

The project is aimed at helping to stem the $30 billion a year which Saudis currently spend abroad on tourism, and has the backing of the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.

It targets local, regional and international tourists and will be Saudi Arabia’s preeminent entertainment, sports and cultural destination.

It is expected to be the world’s largest entertainment city by 2030, with a total area of 334 square kilometers, surpassing Walt Disney World in Florida, which is only 110 sq. km.