Saudi movie industry looking bright but still needs push from government

Oscar-winning producer Andres Gomez speaks during a session at the Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh on Monday. (AN photo)
Updated 03 December 2019

Saudi movie industry looking bright but still needs push from government

  • There is no lack of enthusiasm for filmmaking in the Kingdom, says Oscar-winning producer

RIYADH: World-renowned, Oscar-winning producer Andres Gomez spoke at the Saudi Media Forum over the weekend, where he spoke about his latest film, “Born a King,” and his upcoming movie “Champions,” which will start shooting in Jeddah in early 2020.

“One of the exciting things about working here is that we are not just making movies — we are creating an industry,” he said, adding there was no lack of enthusiasm for filmmaking in the Kingdom, but a lack of a strong infrastructure to facilitate it.

“Saudi Arabia has great potential to have its own content production industry — and it is in the hands of the government to help it,” he told the forum.

“The government needs to give a framework — there must be legislation, tax rebates, subsidies. There must be regulations in terms of what foreign films can come in and what foreign films cannot.

One of the exciting things about working here is that we are not just making movies — we are creating an industry.

Andres Gomez, Film producer

“Saudi culture must be promoted and protected, and foreign films and their themes should be limited. I’m very interested in helping and developing an industry here.”

Gomez said he was optimistic about the country producing its own content. “Saudi Arabia is a strong country that can create its own content and film industry. 

“Saudi Arabia has the financial means; however, it needs to produce more movies and TV content. The moment you produce 50-60 movies a year you will be in the market and (international film) festivals.

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Andres Gomez’s upcoming film will be shot in Jeddah with an all-Saudi crew and cast.

“This is why I made a call to the Saudi government to help young people to create this industry. It does depend totally on the government.”

As for the talents he worked with, he said: “We have collaborated with 100 Saudis on ‘Born a King.” I know there is interest from many in becoming directors, producers, and actors.”

His upcoming film, “Champions,” is a remake of a Spanish film, and shooting will begin in Jeddah by January, with an all-Saudi crew and cast. 

“We hope to open the film by September next year,” Gomez added.


Italian language week celebrated in Saudi Arabia

Roberto Cantone, Italy’s ambassador to the Kingdom, inaugurated MUSICA, the photo exhibition by artist Michele Ardu, at Oud Square in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 25 October 2020

Italian language week celebrated in Saudi Arabia

  • Embassy invited illustrator Marianna Balducci to participate in a dialogue with Saudi artist and actress Sarah Taibah

RIYADH: The Italian Embassy is celebrating the 20th annual Week of the Italian Language with the aim of demonstrating the richness of the language.

The Italian language week, from Oct. 19-25, is a flagship initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to promote the use of the Italian language worldwide, in collaboration with the Swiss Embassy, where Italian is one of the official languages.
The theme for this year’s initiative is “Italian in words and images: Graffiti, illustrations and comics” and it aims to highlight the beauty and relevance of the Italian illustration and comics industry.
“Italy has a long tradition of artists using illustrations, graffiti and comics to express themselves, and it is such a great opportunity to be able to celebrate this heritage of beauty, innovation and creativity. This is what Italy stands for,” Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone said.
He added: “For this reason, I am very proud that despite the challenges and the distance due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have been able to host two brilliant and very talented Italian young artists, to showcase their artwork and have a fruitful and deep cultural exchange with their Saudi counterparts.”
The Italian Embassy invited illustrator and artist Marianna Balducci to participate in a dialogue with Saudi artist and actress Sarah Taibah, moderated by Talal Al-Zeid.
The webinar took place on Oct. 19 with the artists discussing their creative journey and sharing their experience about what it means to be an illustrator and to work in the creative industries.
The ambassador inaugurated the photo exhibition, MUSICA, by Italian artist Michele Ardu, in collaboration with the Diplomatic Quarter Authority on Oct. 21 at Oud Square. The exhibition will run until Dec. 1.
MUSICA includes eight original artworks located within the Diplomatic Quarter. Each artwork represents a song from the musical heritage of Italy and Saudi Arabia and Italian musical pieces — ranging from opera to classical and contemporary Italian music — the Barber of Seville by Rossini as well as a performance by Andrea Bocelli, and by two famous female Italian singers Mina and Mia Martini, as well as the Italian national anthem and the soundtrack of the film “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” by Ennio Morricone.
There are also two artworks representing the musical heritage of Saudi Arabia — the traditional Saudi sword dance “Ardha” and one of the many beautiful love songs by Mohammed Abdu (Kul Ma Nasnas).  

I am extremely glad that we have been able to collaborate with Michele Ardu and show his work for the first time in Saudi Arabia. He is an excellent example of the creativity and innovation of the Italian cultural scene.

Roberto Cantone, Italy’s ambassador

Using a conceptual approach to photography, the artist captures in each artwork the shape that sound waves create when they meet a linear stream of flowing smoke.
The exhibition challenges the audience to encounter music in a radical new way, by experiencing it through their eyes rather than through their ears.
“I am extremely glad that we have been able to collaborate with Michele Ardu and show his work for the first time in Saudi Arabia. He is extremely talented, and an excellent example of the creativity and innovation of the Italian cultural scene,” the envoy said.
“We have chosen to organize the MUSICA exhibition because of the interesting concept behind it and its relevance for today. By blurring the lines between music and photography, the exhibition reminds us that no matter the obstacles we face, we always have the opportunity to overcome our limits and succeed.
“Over the past few months, especially during lockdown, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all experienced what this means. Thanks to the courage and talent of artists like Michele, both in Italy and Saudi Arabia, despite all challenges, we have had the opportunity to rediscover the essential role that art and culture play in our lives and to reconnect us with our humanity. I am happy that we have this opportunity today to strengthen the cultural partnership between our two countries,” Cantone said.