Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

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Updated 24 February 2020

Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

  • MBC Group to support young film makers with training from industry professionals

LONDON: Young Arab film makers will have the opportunity to have their work showcased at next month’s Red Sea International Film Festival as investment in Saudi cinema gathers pace.

The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced a partnership with MBC Group, which will also broadcast the event’s opening ceremony on March 12.

As part of the deal, MBC Al Amal, MBC’s corporate social responsibility arm, will hold a Shorts pitch competition.

Ten short film projects will be selected from Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, with filmmakers being given a one-day workshop to prepare for a pitching session. 

Italian director and producer Stefano Tealdi will train the candidates to strengthen their skills and give them tips for better pitches, MBC said.

“We strongly believe that this new generation of talent is key in influencing change and creating the difference to the region’s media and entertainment content landscape, which of course includes independent film and mainstream cinema,” said Peter Smith, managing director of MBC Studios.

The region’s biggest broadcaster will also host talent days on March 17 and 18 to support Saudi scriptwriters, directors and producers.

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival takes place March 12-21 in Jeddah Old Town, under the theme “Changing the Script.” It aims to support and help grow Saudi Arabia’s emerging film industry which is attracting a slew of investment from homegrown dramas shot in the Kingdom to the construction of cinemas countrywide.

Real estate broker CBRE estimates that 45 new cinemas are expected to open this year.

The boom in cinema construction coincides with a push to develop the domestic Saudi film industry.

That is being driven by both the big and small screen as video-on-demand players that include MBC, Netflix and Amazon compete to deliver content that speaks to a young Arab audience.


India asks TikTok, Facebook to remove users spreading coronavirus misinformation

Updated 59 min 7 sec ago

India asks TikTok, Facebook to remove users spreading coronavirus misinformation

  • TikTok said it was “actively working with the government to support” their efforts to fight misinformation
  • Facebook said it was taking “aggressive steps to stop misinformation and harmful content from spreading on our platforms”

NEW DELHI: India has told Facebook and Chinese video app TikTok to remove users found to be spreading misinformation about the coronavirus following concern about videos intended to mislead Muslims, according to a government source and a letter seen by Reuters.
The move follows a report by Delhi-based digital analytics firm Voyager Infosec which identified a pattern of targeted disinformation in many social media videos that appeared to be aimed at Muslims, with some using religious beliefs to justifying defiance of health adviseries over the virus.
In one video reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday, a TikTok user says he is not scared of the coronavirus because, as a Muslim, he is a follower of the Prophet Muhammad and fears only Allah.
In another, a young man throws away a face mask — of the kind being commonly used during the coronavirus outbreak — to put on a Muslim skull cap, and makes a gesture of praying.
Concerns about such content forced India’s IT ministry to write to TikTok and Facebook on April 5, the government source said. The letter, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, asks companies to remove users who are spreading misinformation and “preserve” their details for sharing with law enforcement when requested.
“You need to ensure that such rogue messages do not go viral,” said the IT ministry’s letter.
“(Such messages) have the potential for creating panic ... this effectively weakens the all-out effort being made by the Indian government for containing the coronavirus,” the letter added.
In a statement, TikTok said it was “actively working with the government to support” their efforts to fight misinformation, while proactively working toward elevating credible information related to COVID-19 on its platform.
Facebook told Reuters it was taking “aggressive steps to stop misinformation and harmful content from spreading on our platforms.” It said it will remove misinformation about COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, that could contribute to imminent physical harm.
“Infodemic”
The coronavirus crisis has been accompanied by what the World Health Organization has called an “infodemic” of misinformation. Globally, platforms such as Facebook have responded by barring users from posting misleading information about the coronavirus, including denials of expert guidance and encouragement of fake treatments.
India has reported 4,421 coronavirus cases and 115 deaths, and is in lockdown nationwide. The government has been issuing Twitter posts cautioning people against misinformation and debunking fake news.
India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh also raised concerns about “fake news” social media posts on Tuesday, saying its cyber cell was reviewing at least one Facebook and six TikTok videos. It gave no further details.
“We will definitely take action ... We are also sending details to the Indian government from our end,” a senior state official, Avanish Kumar Awasthi, told reporters.