JEDDAH: The Red Sea International Film Festival announced 12 winning projects at the first edition of the Red Sea Film Development Laboratory on Monday, selected by an international committee choosing from 120 projects from 16 countries.
A third of the projects were from female Arab directors, and more than a quarter created with the participation of female producers.
The selected works also included six Saudi films, in addition to six Arab projects from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, reflecting the program’s efforts to support the local and Arab film industries.
The selected names included rising talents presenting their first or second feature films, as well as prominent names offering new experiences and ideas.
Participants in the program are competing for two funding grants to produce two projects worth $500,000 each, with the opportunity to present the winning projects as a premiere at the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in 2021.
The selected projects will join the lab in an integrated program of three workshops, held in collaboration with international creative hub TorinoFilmLab in Jeddah, under the supervision of international experts in the fields of directing, photography, sound and editing. The first workshop will start in October 2019 and the third will conclude during the Red Sea International Film Festival in March 2020.
The committee that selected the winning projects included important names in the Arab and international film industry, such as Mahmoud Sabbagh, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival; Market Manager Julia Bergeron; Antoine Khalifa, the festival’s Arab Program director; Jane Williams, head of studies at the Venice Film Festival College; and the Executive Director of TorinoFilmLab Savina Neruti. Saudi writer and critic Fahad Al-Osta also participated in the selection process.
Issues tackled by the submissions included socio-economic transformations and the impact of political events, such as the moment of oil discovery in the Kingdom in 1938, and the siege of the Grand Mosque in 1979, while one of the projects dealt with a contemporary psychological issue on loneliness.