DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival unveiled its inaugural movie lineup this week, with a few surprises on the list, including Holocaust-based film, “Resistance.”
The Jonathan Jakubowicz-directed World War II film, starring Jesse Eisenberg as Marcel Marceau, who was a member of the French Resistance, will mark the first time a film that explores the Holocaust will screen in the Kingdom
First Holocaust film to screen in Saudi Arabia!
— Jonathan Jakubowicz (@JoJakubowicz) February 17, 2020
The significance was not lost on film aficionados, who took to social media to congratulate the Venezuelan director.
“Congratulations @JoJakubowicz I am very proud of all your achievements,” one user wrote. “A geopolitical achievement. Good job, Jonathan!” another user tweeted.
Un logro "geopolítico" ¡Que bueno Jonathan!
— Manuel Moreno (@ManuEdMoreno) February 17, 2020
“I think it’s a promising move toward artistic freedom,” Makkah-based Saudi filmmaker Talal Wassmy told Arab News when asked what the implications of the screening would be.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Yahya, a Saudi film critic for movie-focused website filmphoria.com, added that “it is a great cultural shift toward a less prejudiced mindset. I am glad we are no longer beholden to one narrative when it comes to history.”
The biographical drama tells the story of a young French actor, Marcel Marceau, who joins the French Resistance at the beginning of World War II in order to help save the lives of 10,000 Jewish orphans from Nazi forces in France.
Marceau, who was also famous for being a mime artist that delighted audiences for decades as “Bip,” used his miming skills to keep the orphaned children comfortable and quiet during the risky smuggled escapes to Switzerland.
“The kids loved Marcel and felt safe with him,” the late actor’s cousin and commander of the French Resistance, Georges Loinger, told the Jewish Telegraph Agency in 2007, after Marceau’s death.
“The kids had to appear like they were simply going on vacation to a home near the Swiss border and Marcel really put them at ease.”
The full cast of the film includes Edgar Ramírez, Clémence Poésy, Bella Ramsey, Matthias Schweighöfer, Géza Röhrig, Karl Markovics, Félix Moati, Alicia von Rittberg and Vica Kerekes.
The film will be screened in Saudi Arabia before it is released in the US on March 27.
Also screening at the film festival, which is taking place from March 12-21 in Jeddah, is Derek Tsang’s “Better Days,“ “Air Conditioner” by Angolan Fradique, which premiered recently at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Mongolian-German director Uisenma Borchu’s semi-autobiographical drama “Black Milk,” which are also part of the competition lineup.