Saudi film industry heralds new dawn with opening of first arthouse cinema

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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
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The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ (AN Photo)
Updated 28 June 2019

Saudi film industry heralds new dawn with opening of first arthouse cinema

  • Cinema El-Housh is the brainchild of Saudi film director, producer and screenwriter Mahmoud Sabbagh and the event will continue until July 25 as part of the Jeddah Season festival
  • Mahmoud Sabbagh: We chose old Jeddah because the phenomena existed here, and the idea of an arthouse film isn’t new

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s blossoming film industry on Tuesday heralded a new dawn with the launch of the Kingdom’s first arthouse cinema.

The outdoor Cinema El-Housh opened in the historic city of Jeddah with the screening of director Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated “2001: A Space Odyssey” to mark the movie’s 51st anniversary.

The project is the brainchild of Saudi film director, producer and screenwriter Mahmoud Sabbagh and the event will continue until July 25 as part of the Jeddah Season festival.

“Cinema El-Housh is one of the first proper arthouses for film theater initiatives in Saudi Arabia and in Jeddah,” Sabbagh told Arab News.

“The idea of the cinema comes from outdoor cinemas, which was a phenomenon that existed in old Jeddah from the 1940s until the end of the 1970s, where people gathered in courtyards where they would screen a film and enjoy it.

“We are bringing that back to the community with all its minimalism and gestures for bringing people together and bringing the communal experience of watching films again,” he said.

“We chose old Jeddah because the phenomena existed here, and the idea of an arthouse film isn’t new. It really strikes a balance between a commercial cinema and non-commercial cinemas.

“With the opening of cinemas, we are witnessing a burst of commercial-driven cinema multiplexes. However, there was a void someone had to fill by introducing this idea of arthouse cinemas,” added Sabbagh.

“We are free to screen films that are of non-commercial value, non-mainstream, more independent films that are film festival frequent and classics, and Saudi films. We want to be a platform for all the emerging Saudi voices.”

 

Tuesday’s private screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey” was also attended by Saudi actor Khaled Yeslam who said the film’s message conveyed the dawning of a new era in the Kingdom.

“From my perspective, choosing “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it started with the new dawn of mankind. And the music played was the music we listened to in the 1980s and 1990s,” Yeslam told Arab News.

“So, seeing such an entry as a film in Al-Balad, it’s a metaphor itself; here in Al-Balad, in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia itself. I thought it was planned and that he meant to do that. And I think Mahmoud is such a genius for choosing such a film.”

On the Kingdom’s booming film industry, Yeslam said: “Through movies, it’s finally our (Saudis) time to tell our stories. We’re fed up with the stereotypes and double standards by Western media and it’s time to reveal our reality.

“In the end, we’re just human, we’re just like everyone else, and I believe that art is a way to connect with others as humans.”

FASTFACTS

Outdoor cinemas existed in Jeddah from the 1940s until the late 1970s.


Egyptian actor Amr Waked says he will star in ‘Wonder Woman’ sequel

The 46-year-old actor is set to star in the superhero sequel to “Wonder Woman.” (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 November 2019

Egyptian actor Amr Waked says he will star in ‘Wonder Woman’ sequel

  • Waked is best known to international audiences and in Hollywood for his role in the 2005 film “Syriana”
  • He joined Hollywood stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2011 film, “Contagion”

DUBAI: Egyptian actor Amr Waked is reportedly set to make another appearance in a blockbuster Hollywood flick. The 46-year-old actor took to Twitter this week to say he is set to star in the superhero sequel to “Wonder Woman.” 

“Wait for my appearance in the superhero film ‘1984’ (Part II), directed by Patty Jenkins and expected to come out in June 2020,” Waked tweeted.

Waked is best known to international audiences and in Hollywood for his role in the 2005 film “Syriana,” for which in 2006 he won a “Special Award for Arabs in International Cinema” at the Cairo International Film Festival.

He joined Hollywood stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2011 film, “Contagion” and co-starred in the British film “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” with Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas and also co-starred in “Lucy” alongside Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson.

Lebanon banned the showing of the first “Wonder Woman” film that Israeli lead actress Gal Gadot starred in after activists in the country campaigned against its release.

Controversy surrounded the Israeli actress who previously served in the Israel Defense Forces before pursuing a career in acting.