New competition to challenge filmmakers and push their limits

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Updated 09 October 2020

New competition to challenge filmmakers and push their limits

JEDDAH: A new short film competition is set to entice and support local filmmakers while challenging them as they write, shoot and edit their creations in just 48 hours.

The Red Sea International Film Festival launched a new short film competition that will include three days of mentorship once through the selection process, followed by an intensive 48 hours where the selected teams will create their films within that short window while working around a set theme and incorporating surprise elements.

The competition is a collaboration between the Alliance Française, the Consulate General of France in Jeddah, the French Embassy in Riyadh, the Red Sea International Film Festival, and La Fémis.

The shortlisted teams will be selected by a jury composed of award winning actress Hend Sabry, film director and screenwriter Lisa Sallustio, French film director and writer Brice Cauvin, Saudi writer and director Faizah Saleh Ambah and Saudi film director and producer Mohammed Al-Hamoud.

Teams must be between 2-5 participants and aged between 18-25 years old. Those selected from the applicants will enjoy three days of workshops starting Oct. 22, which will equip them with the knowledge and expertise to develop their film, from idea to final cut between Oct. 30-31.

The jury screening will take place a few days after, between Nov. 2-4.

The announcement of the winners will take place on Nov. 9. Two competition winners will go on to enjoy a residency program with renowned french cinema operators in 2021.


‘Black Beauty’: Mending broken spirits in yet another retelling of a classic

The film begins with the sorrowful story of how Black Beauty (voiced by Kate Winslet) is taken away from her family. (Supplied)
Updated 30 November 2020

‘Black Beauty’: Mending broken spirits in yet another retelling of a classic

CHENNAI: English author Anna Sewell wrote her only novel “Black Beauty” between 1871 and 1877, at a time when she was quite ill and could hardly get out of bed.

Often considered a children’s classic, it has sold a whopping 50 million copies and was actually directed at adults — Ashley Avis’s reimagining of “Black Beauty” for Disney+ underscores this in an enormously poignant way, although this sixth incarnation (the last being Caroline Thomson’s rather disappointing 1994 version) may have lost some appeal. 

An autobiography of a wild horse captured in the American West and tamed, Avis’s film begins with the sorrowful story of how Black Beauty (voiced by Kate Winslet) is taken away from her family and brought to Birtwick Stables, run by John Manly (Ian Glen). Despite his experience as a horse whisperer, he is unable to tame Beauty. It takes his teenage niece Jo Green (Mckenzie Foy) to calm the magnificent creature.

Green, who comes to live with her uncle after the death of her parents in a car accident, succeeds largely because of her ability to treat Beauty not as an animal but as another soul capable of feelings. She says early on in a teary moment that like herself, the horse has lost its family. This understanding and the bond that follows are beautifully captured by Avis, also the writer. 

What may serve as an important point of novelty is the gender switch. Beauty is now a female mustang, not a male as in the tome or adaptations. This may have been an intelligent ploy to establish a still warmer camaraderie between Green and Beauty. Only Green can soothe Beauty, who can help the girl get over her terrible loss.

But then the horse has to live through several masters after Manly finds he can no longer afford her. Beauty experiences as much care as cruelty, but as Winslet observes at the beginning: “A wise horse once told me that a mustang’s spirit can never be broken.”

While Winslet’s voiceover seems useful, there are moments when it is distracting. Also, Avis’s inclusion of a fair amount of modernism in her narrative — with swanky cars rubbing shoulders with horse-drawn carriages on the streets of New York, where Beauty is taken — may seem confusingly improbable. “Black Beauty” is charming, but what could have added a zing to it is greater drama. Most of the time, the storytelling is flat.