Egyptian film director turns spotlight on Arab cinema

Egyptian film director Marwan Hamed, left, and Antoine Khalife, director of the Arab Program, during the masterclass. (Supplied)
Updated 07 November 2019

Egyptian film director turns spotlight on Arab cinema

  • ‘We can shoot great films,’ Marwan Hamed tells Saudis at Jeddah event

JEDDAH: More than 150 cinema enthusiasts gathered at the Saudi Art Council on Sunday to hear renowned Egyptian director Marwan Hamed describe his filmmaking experiences stretching back two decades. The masterclass is part of a series of educational seminars organized by the Red Sea International Film Festival in preparation for its official launch on March 12, 2020.
Hamed, whose sequel to the “Blue Elephant,” earned $6.2 million at the box office in just nine months, told his audience that “creative storytelling is an art” before outlining funding mechanisms and production techniques of commercially successful Arab films.
The cinema industry in the Arab world is flourishing, Hamed told Arab News.
“This can pave the way for joint Arab cinema production. We have something that is of great significance. We have millions of young people who want to watch films. Other millions are eager to join the industry as actors, producers, scenarists or directors,” he said.
Finance for a substantial Arab cinema production is available and “that is a strong incentive to create a big cinema industry in the Arab world,” he added.
“We speak the same language and we have wonderful locations where we can shoot great films,” Hamed said.
The Egyptian director predicted that the Red Sea International Film Festival would be a big success. “The festival will take a leading position among Arab cinema events in the next few years,” he said.
During the two-hour seminar, Hamed also shed light on his relationship with Arab cinema stars such as Adel Imam and Nour El-Sherif. His talk was followed by questions and a discussion on Egypt’s successful film industry.
Saudi actor Naif Al-Dhafeeri told Arab News that it was “great to meet such a brilliant director and learn from his experience.”
“Marwan Hamed is a genius director. I have watched all his films. His directing style leaves you in awe,” Al-Dhafeeri said. “It is a priceless chance to see this talented man among us here in Saudi Arabia. This can help us improve the cinema industry in our country.
“It is so important that we bridge the knowledge gap between us and countries with a long history in the industry, such as Egypt. I am attending this masterclass and we may work with Hamed on a joint project, who knows?” Al-Dhafeeri said.
The first Red Sea International Film Festival will bring the regional and international community together to experience the world’s best films, educational workshops, masterclasses, immersive art experiences, experimental projects and other cinematic events.
The festival’s ambitious mandate is to develop and promote the film industry in Saudi Arabia and become a key event for discovering talent in the region, and to support a new wave of cinema from around the world with a focus on the “Global South.”
Local cinema fans, filmmakers, actors, and media and industry professionals will join together in a celebration of cinema.
The Red Sea Film Lodge: “The New Arab Wave,” a script and feature lab developed in collaboration with TorinoFilmLab, has been launched by the festival.
The festival announced 12 winning projects at the first edition of the Red Sea Film Development Laboratory last September, selected by an international committee from 120 projects in 16 countries. The selected works included six Saudi films, in addition to six Arab projects from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, reflecting the program’s efforts to support local and Arab film industries.
Participants in the program are competing for two funding grants to produce two projects worth $500,000 each, with the chance to present the winning projects as a premiere at the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in 2021.
Announced in March 2019, the festival aims to establish a solid foundation for the cinema industry in Saudi Arabia in a way that will contribute to diversifying the country’s income. The first edition of the festival will be held in the old town of Jeddah from March 12-21, 2020.
Coming after a decades-long hiatus on cinema, the festival will be organized and operated by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation, a nonprofit cultural organization registered in the Kingdom. The foundation is chaired by Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Farhan, with the Saudi director and producer Mahmoud Sabbagh as president.
A third of the projects were from women Arab directors and more than a quarter were created with the participation of female producers.


Five Saudi officials accused of corruption sentenced to jail, fined SR9m

Updated 18 min 53 sec ago

Five Saudi officials accused of corruption sentenced to jail, fined SR9m

  • The prosecution found 300 items of evidence against the defendants
  • Funds in their personal bank accounts were seized

RIYADH: Five officials accused of financial and administrative corruption in Saudi Arabia have been given a 32 year collective prison sentence by the Kingdom's public prosecution office and were fined a total of SR9 million, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday. 

The prosecution found 300 items of evidence against the defendants and funds in their personal bank accounts were seized.

One of the officials was accused of receiving bribes, committing forgery, and exploiting his position to achieve personal favors. He was given a 12 year jail sentence and fined more than SR1 million.

Charges against the defendants included wasting public funds, unjust enrichment, and selling government property.