DUBAI: Set to be released early next year, new documentary “Electric Kingdom” tells the behind-the-scenes story of Saudi Arabia’s first Formula E electric car race in 2018 and explores the other firsts in the country, including the first mixed concert, the first female race car drivers hitting a national track and the moment visitors landed on government-issued tourist visas.
Arab News caught up with US producer Carla DiBello at the glitzy Rixos Premium Dubai, who worked with a crew from Los Angeles to capture these watershed moments on film in a project helmed by Oscar-nominated director David Darg.
For DiBello, it was all about showing the world the real face of her new home in the Gulf.
“This was a project that I was so passionate about and I really fought to make because it was so important that I wanted my peers in the US to really see what I experience living in the Middle East,” she told Arab News.
The documentary, which premiered at the Washington West Film Festival on Oct. 27, is particularly important because it portrays a series of firsts in the Kingdom.
“There were many firsts. It was the first electric car race that was held in the Gulf, it was the first Western concert — Jason Derulo was the very first artist to step on a stage in front of a mixed crowd,” she said.
DiBello filmed the documentary with a crew from Los Angeles, who she says were surprised by what they found in Saudi Arabia.
“I think a lot of people, especially from my crew in Los Angeles, that came out to visit were just so blown away by the hospitality and the culture and how catering everyone is to everyone’s needs and they really saw a different side of Saudi Arabia that they imagined.”
And that’s one of the main points the former “Keeping up with the Kardashians” producer is keen to get across in her latest documentary.
“I think my purpose in making this was to really be able to show people in America and all over the world what Saudi Arabia really is… it’s not just based on what you see in the media or what’s portrayed,” she said.
BiBello was impressed by the organizer’s ability to pull off the race, despite serious setbacks, including adverse weather conditions at the time.
“It was definitely a challenge waking up at five in the morning to go shoot the day of the race and the track being close to flooded. So, there were a lot of fun experiences everyday — we woke up to something new or a new challenge. Nowhere else in the world can they pull something off in such a short time and execute it in such a positive way,” she said.