JEDDAH, 27 October 2006 — As the first ever feature-length Saudi film began showing on Eid at cinemas across the Middle East, Saudis were unable to watch the movie in the Kingdom due to a restriction on cinemas.
“Keif Al-Hal” (How Are You), starring Saudi actors Mees and Hisham Abdul Raheem and produced by Saudi producer Ayman Al-Halawani, began premiering at cinemas across GCC countries and the Middle East except Saudi Arabia.
“How come we’re unable to see our own first ever movie?” asked 35-year-old Saeed Abdul Aziz, who is from Riyadh and presently on holiday in Jeddah.
“This is unjustifiable. This is our first ever Saudi movie and we are unable to see it while people around the GCC and Arab countries have the chance to do so.”
Abdulaziz and his wife Hayat want cinemas in the Kingdom to be able to watch movies here instead of being forced to go abroad.
Yasir Rasheed, a Saudi journalist who attended the premiere show in Bahrain, explained that the film was a big hit.
Speaking from Bahrain, he said, “Various Bahraini theaters where the Saudi movie is showing have witnessed a huge number of Saudis and people from other GCC nationalities.”
He added, “According to people in charge of these theaters, the movie has been rated one of the most popular movies this Eid and more moviegoers are expecting to come within the next few days.”
Rasheed noted the Saudi movie has been a great success and is proof that Saudis are taking major steps into the film industry.
Jeddah resident Mamdouh Al-Harbi said, “We have to travel to other countries to see our movie which highlights life in Saudi Arabia and features young Saudi actors and actresses.” Al-Harbi feels that it is a positive step to see children’s cinemas opening up in Jeddah and Riyadh. He hopes other films would also be able to be seen publicly in the Kingdom.
The film’s producer Ayman Al-Halawani said the film has received widespread acclamation across the region. “We have received a positive reaction so far,” he said.
Keif Al Hal is a comedy-drama depicting the tension between moderates and conservatives in the Kingdom and the conflict experienced by the young as they try to embrace globalization, while retaining cherished Islamic values.