Saudi filmmaking goes to Bollywood
One of the most vital artistic elements that we lack in our country is the late advent of filmmaking industry. The earliest mention of cinema in Saudi Arabia could be that of the French critic and film historian Georges Sadoul, where he mentioned in his book “The History of Cinema in the World,” that in 1965 Saudi Arabia was the only country in the Arab world whose population is officially unaware all about cinema.
In a few years after that statement, cinema halls started to open in Saudi Arabia. During the 1970s, sports clubs around the Kingdom started showing the latest movies. Although it was for men only and randomly lacked the necessary organization and configuration to create a strong base for film industry, it was at least presenting cinema as an art to the Saudi public. But it did not last long.
After the 1980 Juhayman’s incident, all movie theaters were closed. It was put to an end with a large number of other cultural activities that were supposed to bring aspects of the modern culture to Saudi society.
Government stopped its support to encourage creating cinema halls in the country, and public exhibition of films in the Kingdom has been restricted till this day.
In recent years many young talented Saudi actors and directors are determined to find a place for Saudi cinema in the film industry. They have started their own social networks and production methods to promote a flourishing Saudi movie production.
But sometimes the lack of local support can lead to finding new creative solutions even from the outside. As what happened with Saudi female writer and director Sameera Aziz, where she went to Bollywood to produce her first movie titled “Reem,” which tells a story of a Saudi girl from an Indian mother.
If we take a general look at the history of Saudi cinema in the last 50 years, we would find that we have created more than 300 Saudi films. Although it is considered very few according to international standards, we can have a positive aspiration when we realize that the majority of those movies were produced in the last 10 years.
The success and continuity of filmmaking in Saudi Arabia will depend mainly on the young filmmakers themselves. But it would surely need the attention and care of the government in establishing cinema institutions and festivals, and most of all in lifting the ban on movie theaters in the Kingdom.
A tweet: “The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely, even when you are.”
— Tom Hanks
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