Saudi film to premiere in Vox cinemas for first time

‘Roll’em, a film by an all-Saudi crew, is being shot in Jeddah. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 11 March 2019

Saudi film to premiere in Vox cinemas for first time

  • The forecast was based on a projected 2030 population of 39.5 million, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people
  • Cinemas were banned in the country for decades until the first one opened last April in Riyadh

JEDDAH: A Saudi film to the core, “Roll’em” was developed, written and produced over three years with an all-Saudi crew, from the actors to the sound director.
Vox cinema will have a private screening on Wednesday and a public one on Thursday. “Roll’em” is directed and produced by Abdulelah Al-Qurashi and co-produced by Abdulrahman Khoja.
The film follows the story of Saudi filmmaker Omar Nizar who, while on a journey to discover Jeddah, realizes that he does not know his beloved city as well as he thought he did.
He meets a retired cinematographer whose glory days were in the 1970s as he divided his time between France and Cairo.
Screenwriter Yasser Hammad said “Roll’em” is a co-production with Saudi film production company Cinepoetics, owned by Khoja.
“It’s a Jeddawi film to the core. The post-production was in Egypt. The areas where we don’t have expertise in we had to outsource, but everything that had to do with the creative work is purely Saudi,” Hammad told Arab News.
“The idea (for the characters) came up from a joke actually. I was pretending to be an old cinematographer and using Hejazi words and the accent. It inspired me to create a character,” he said.
“We had our inspiration from actual film directors from the 1970s in Saudi Arabia that no one knows about. They tried to pursue the same dreams we had, but failed because of their circumstances,” he added.
“The idea is someone has a dream and wants to achieve it, but the circumstances aren’t allowing him to. The difference between the two generations makes the difference. Why can we make films today, and why couldn’t we make them back then?”
Hammad said having the film screened in Jeddah “is like a dream come true,” adding: “Without this city, I wouldn’t be able to create art.”
Naif Al-Daferi, who plays Mohannad in the film, told Arab News: “The audience will see a different image of Jeddah … To add to that, the story talks about someone who’s struggling in the field of filmmaking in capturing Jeddah.”
He said: “There’s entertainment value, the characters are diverse and the cast is incredible.” Al-Qurashi “is a true filmmaker,” Al-Daferi added.
Jeddah’s first cinema opened its doors to the public in January, and an industry expert said he expected up to 35 million people in the Kingdom to go to the movies every year.
Cinemas were banned in the country for decades until the first one opened last April in Riyadh.
Cameron Mitchell, CEO of the regional cinema chain Majid Al Futtaim, said Saudi Arabia had the capacity for high audience numbers. He was speaking at the opening ceremony for Vox Cinemas in Jeddah‘s Red Sea Mall.
“If you look at Dubai we have some 15 million customers there per annum. On the short-term goal in Saudi Arabia we are expecting the market to reach about 30 million customers,” he said.
Research from PwC Middle East in November estimated that total cinema revenue in Saudi Arabia would reach $1.5 billion by 2030. The forecast was based on a projected 2030 population of 39.5 million, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people.
Last year, Vox Cinemas said it would be investing $533 million to open 600 theaters in the next five years.
“Some 95 percent of our employees here are from Saudi Arabia,” Mitchell said.
“We expect the cinemas in the Red Sea Mall to be showing a mix of films, probably about 300 films per year with at least six new movies every single week. It will take a while for us to have enough cinemas for everyone to get to go to the cinema whenever they want to.
“In my opinion, the cinema is a good place for families to spend time together in a social environment, especially in hot summer days, when outdoor activities are limited.”
There will be cinemas in Tabuk by the end of this year or by early 2020 and the Saudi government has been very helpful, he said, adding: “We got the license last April and we were keen to do the required steps and follow the regulations, and that went smoothly.”


Interfaith group KAICIID on a mission to replace hate rhetoric with tolerance

Updated 22 min 6 sec ago

Interfaith group KAICIID on a mission to replace hate rhetoric with tolerance

  • The center was able to create partnerships with countries, global institutions and religious leaderships to convince the international community that religious values should be considered part of the solution, not the origin of the problem

JEDDAH: Different religious and human traditions can lead to a cohesive international community, and tolerance can replace hate rhetoric through responsible dialogue centers such as the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), its secretary-general has said.  

Faisal bin Muammar said that global dialogue, through activating the role of religious and human values in dealing with international issues, has become one of the most important axes in the global forums, for its impact on relations between individuals, leaders and religious institutions of different religions and religious affiliations with policymakers everywhere, in particular international bodies and organizations.

 

Support

Commenting on international support for KAICIID, Bin Muammar said: “I can confidently say that we have succeeded, with the support of Saudi Arabia and the participation of Spain, Austria and the Vatican, in achieving a global achievement through the KAICIID’s initiative for dialogue between followers of religions and cultures.

“The initiative aims at promoting humanitarian partnerships and consolidating coexistence under the umbrella of shared citizenship. We have, in fact, witnessed various patterns where we can utilize efforts of different initiatives specialized in humanitarian and religious values to assist policymakers,” Bin Muammar said.

He said that the center was able to create partnerships with countries, global institutions and religious leaderships to convince the international community that religious values should be considered part of the solution, not the origin of the problem, especially, he added, as 84 percent of the world’s population had a religious identity or tradition.

Bin Muammar said that people associated with religion are potential advocates for tolerance and respect. “For that reason, KAICIID invests in promoting interreligious dialogue to unite different religions in securing social cohesion. That outcome is an essential contribution toward human security and inclusive development.” 

KAICIID requested policymakers and the international community to adopt this approach, which would contribute to building security, peace and coexistence.

The secretary-general said that religious and human values have become a major part of the foundation’s local and global mission.

“With its strong and effective presence in global forums, the KAICIID has moved to the forefront of dialogue and cultural institutions. This could have not happened if it was not Allah’s help, the support of the founding members and the board consisting of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus,” he said.

He said that one factor that had helped KAICIID become a globally leading interreligious and intercultural dialogue center was that its 50-member advisory forum represents about 15 religions and beliefs.

“Moreover, the center’s representatives come from 30 countries. In addition, the center has various platforms such as the refugee platform, the Muslim Jewish Council of Europe, the dialogue platform in Central Africa, the Muslim-Christian dialogue platform in Nigeria, the Myanmar platform for dialogue between the Muslims and the Buddhists, the dialogue platform for dialogue and cooperation between Muslims and Christians and the fellows programs in five continents,” he said.

 

Social cohesion

The KAICIID International Fellows Program brings together leaders and educators from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other religious backgrounds from around the world for training in dialogue facilitation, intercultural communication and promoting social cohesion by KAICIID experts. The program equips fellows with the skills to educate their students and communities about interreligious dialogue so they can become facilitators and leaders in the dialogue and active peace advocates in their communities.

Bin Muammar said that KAICIID’s achievements included joining the UN’s advisory council, which consists of 50 institutions worldwide.

“In the UN recent elections, the secretary-general of KAICIID was elected to co-chair the Faith Advisory Council of the United Nations Interagency Taskforce on Religion and Development together with Ms. Tarja Kantola, Chair of Finn Church Aid’s board of directors,” he said.

He said that the multi-religious coalition — Religions for Peace — (RfP) had elected the KAICIID secretary-general as an honorary president at its 10th World Assembly in Lindau, Germany.

“The choice is a recognition of KAICIID’s mandate and my team’s efforts to bring peace through dialogue,” he said. “We cannot achieve peaceful and cohesive societies without organizations like RfP, a very important partner for KAICIID since its establishment in 2012.”