LONDON: The Saudi-based Red Sea International Film Festival has announced that it will provide funding for 14 Arabic-language films, including three being produced by acclaimed Saudi filmmakers.
The announcement was made at the Venice Film Festival, where the Red Sea Festival and a number of the Kingdom’s filmmakers have a substantial presence.
The films selected will receive funding for the production and post-production stages of development, derived from the festival’s $14 million development pot — conceived to support filmmakers from the Arab world.
Among the 14 films selected are three from Saudi directors: “Route 10” by Omar Naim, “Basma” by Fatima Al-Banawi and “Quareer,” which will be co-directed by various artists.
Creators from across the Arab world will receive grants for their films, which were selected from a pool of 650 applicants.
The fund aims to support the production of 100 films in its first year, and the newly announced films to receive funding will be part of that effort.
A second round of movies selected for grants will be announced in December, and the Red Sea International Film Festival’s inaugural edition will take place in Jeddah from Dec. 6-15.
Three-Michelin starred chef Jason Atherton to open fine dining restaurant in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
Updated 53 min 3 sec ago
RIYADH: AlUla is set to get its first-ever permanent fine-dining restaurant. Maraya Social, helmed by three-michelin star English chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton, will cut the ribbon on its newest location at Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site on Oct. 27, 2021.
Atherton said in a statement that he “jumped at the chance to be one of the first permanent fine-dining venues in AlUla.”
He added: “My team and I are so impressed by the natural beauty, history and culture of AlUla. I jumped at the chance to be one of the first permanent fine-dining venues in AlUla. The beauty of the Ashar Valley, the native produce and the iconic Maraya architecture are all the ingredients we need for what is sure to be a sought-after destination dining experience.”
Echoing his statement, Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing offices, royal commission for AlUla adds: “Maraya Social is set to be a destination restaurant for Middle East and the world. We are delighted for AlUla to be the home of Chef’s first restaurant in Saudi Arabia. AlUla presents a unique opportunity both in terms of the historical setting as well as the untapped pantry of produce and flavors.”
The venue will be located on the rooftop of the mirrored Maraya Hall, offering diners unparalleled 360-degree views of the stunning rock-strewn valleys and canyons of the Ashar Valley as they enjoy a hearty menu featuring seasonal fruits, vegetables and locally-produced ingredients.
“AlUla has an amazing diversity of produce unique to the region and an incredible history and culture which I am excited to explore both in the landscape and in the menu,” said Chef Atherton.
The not-yet-opened restaurant will feature an open-plan design with bespoke furniture made out of luxe fabrics and materials such as silk and cotton in a harmonic color palette, selected to reflect its environment.
Maraya Social will be the newest addition to the Michelin-starred chef’s portfolio of international restaurants as well as his first foray into the Kingdom.
Those who wish to dine at the new venue will be able to make reservations online.
Highlights from Arab Fashion Week so far: From evening gowns to celebrity appearances
Updated 26 October 2021
Arab Fashion Week returned to a physical format this week in Dubai Design District. Read on for everything you may have missed from the first day of the five-day event.
Amato opens the season
The latest iteration of Arab Fashion Week started with a bang, with Dubai-based Filipino designer Furne One of Amato opening the season with a glamorous fashion show punctuated with dramatic evening gowns and heavily-embellished jumpsuits.
Emirati label Euphoria steals the show
Red carpet silhouettes, a harmonious pastel color palette and sparkling sequins made up Emirati label Euphoria’s latest offering, which stole the show on Monday evening.
Ihab Jiryis’s first IRL show
Palestinian designer Ihab Jiryis debuted his first show on calendar last month during the digital edition of Arab Fashion Week. Yesterday, the couturier presented his eponymous eveningwear brand’s first physical fashion show.
Barbie is the new Fashion Icon
Lebanese singer Maya Diab presented the Fashion Icon award to Kim Culmone, Mattel's Vice President of Barbie Design. Diab, who performed on Sunday night, was last year’s recipient of the accolade.
American designer Jeremy Scott receives honor
Moschino designer Jeremy Scott scooped up the Council’s Medal of Honor for Lifetime achievement followed by a fashion show presenting Moschino’s Barbie Spring 2015 ready-to-wear archive collection on Sunday.
The 13-year-old Soprano, who is the winner of the fifth season of Arab Got Talent and finalist of the fourteenth season of America’s Got Talent, took to the stage, wowing audiences with a performance of two Opera songs on Sunday.
Jeddah arts hub Hayy Jameel announces 5-month opening season
Updated 26 October 2021
DUBAI: Jeddah’s new arts hub Hayy Jameel is set to open with a five-month opening season on Dec. 6, 2021, the Art Jameel foundation announced on Tuesday.
The opening season will run from Dec. 6 to April 30, 2022, and will feature a roster of exhibitions and art programs, including “Staple: What’s on your plate?” co-curated by Art Jameel and Delfina Foundation; “Illuminate: a Noor Riyadh Capsule,” featuring major light works by 11 Saudi artists; “Paused Mirror,” a newly-commissioned collection of portraits of Saudi artists by Osama Esid; and the inaugural Hayy Jamel Façade Commission, awarded to Nasser Almulhim.
Workshops, tours and talks will also take place throughout the five-month season.
The opening season includes more than 45 artists and researchers from around 20 countries and features existing and newly-commissioned works by 19 Saudi artists.
Hayy Jameel, a 17,000-square-meter cultural complex, is designed by waiwai, an award-winning multidisciplinary architecture studio with offices in Dubai and Tokyo. Hayy Jameel’s building design has received multiple architectural accolades, including Gold in the Hong Kong Design Awards and Silver in the New York Design Awards.
Fady Jameel, Chairman and Founder of Art Jameel, commented: “Hayy Jameel’s opening has been 20 years in the making and marks the celebration of over three-quarters of a century of Jameel philanthropic and community activities – manifesting at a dynamic moment and exceptionally exciting time for cultural life in Saudi Arabia.”
Director of Art Jameel Antonia Carver added: “Hayy Jameel opens in concert with a robust cultural calendar in Saudi, from coast to coast, including the launch of the first Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Red Sea International Film Festival, Misk Art Week, Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium and many more. Since its early days, Art Jameel’s working model has always been collaborative, dynamic and cross-disciplinary, complementing existing infrastructures while creating opportunities for alignment and expansion. Hayy Jameel has come at the right time, in the right city where contemporary art meets a history shaped by trade and tradition.”
Swiss-Arab label Mouawad unveiled as official jeweler for Kristen Stewart-starring ‘Spencer’
Updated 26 October 2021
DUBAI: Mouawad has been fashioning spectacular jewelry for its devoted royal clientele for decades, so it is only fitting that the Swiss-Emirati jewelry company was selected to provide the jewels for the acclaimed Princess Diana biopic “Spencer.”
US actress Kristen Stewart, who portrays the late people’s princess in the Pablo Larrain-directed movie, dazzles throughout the film wearing a lineup of sparkling pieces from Mouawad, including a blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring, featuring 1.82 carat of diamonds and 7.25 carat of sapphires, reminiscent of Princess Diana’s own iconic blue bauble.
“It has been a pleasure to work on ‘Spencer,’ providing the jewelry for the role of an iconic princess known for her style as well as her powerful impact on the world,” said fourth generation Mouawad co-guardians, Fred, Alain and Pascal Mouawad, in a statement.
“Mouawad has an illustrious heritage in jewelry and watchmaking, and over the decades has been the choice for royalty and celebrities when seeking a unique statement piece or set of jewelry, as well as often being called on by royal protocol offices to create notable gifts to be presented to heads of state, presidents and prime ministers,” the jewelry house added in a statement.
The brand was founded 131-years-ago in Beirut, Lebanon, by David Mouawad.
Today, the company is headquartered in Dubai and Geneva.
Meanwhile, “Spencer” had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last month.
The film, written by Steven Knight, is set over a three-day holiday at the British Royal family’s vacation home in the early 1990s, before Princess Diana split from Prince Charles.
Stewart, who received wide acclaim from critics for her portrayal of the highly-scrutinized royal, admitted she did a lot of research prior to emulating Diana onscreen.
“I read everything, I wanted every photo... watched all the interviews that I could get my hands on,” she told the BBC.
“I watched ‘The Crown,’ I watched every iteration of interpretation. I just tried to absorb her in an emotional and general way, and then trust the process, and expect her to show up,” she added.
War Machine is the big hero at RUSH Gaming Festival cosplay contest in Riyadh
Ibrahim Al-Yafii from Saudi Arabia won first prize in the solo competition with his impressive homemade version of the Marvel superhero’s high-tech armor
Two Saudi sisters, who use the stage names Hesakura and Sei, won the group category with their portrayal of Ryoma and Xander from video game ‘Fire Emblem Fates’
Updated 26 October 2021
Khaoula Ghanem & Zaid Khashogji
RIYADH: Marvel superhero War Machine stole the show on Monday night during the cosplay competition at the RUSH Gaming Festival in Riyadh. Ibrahim Al-Yafii’s homemade version of the high-tech hero’s armor took top prize in the solo contest.
“I’m extremely happy, after slaving away for months, to find myself victorious today,” said the 27-year-old Saudi professional cosplayer. “It took me two months to make this costume.”
Al-Yafii beat out 22 other hopeful contestants to take home a prize of SR10,000 ($2,666) on the penultimate day of the five-day gaming festival at Riyadh Front Exhibition Center, billed as the biggest event of its kind in the region.
He said that just two days before he took to the stage, his War Machine helmet sustained some damage that put him under great pressure to fix properly in time for the competition. Fortunately he was able to patch it up and his efforts were rewarded with the top prize.
Soumaya Awadh, from the UAE, was one of the judges of Monday’s competition, along with 25-year-old Makusha Yelyzaveta from Ukraine. They are professional cosplayers, better known by their respective nicknames Sumi and Makmaku.”
“I’m a gamer and have been playing video games since Atari,” said Awadh. “I was so excited to see cosplay happening here. The prizes are so big for the cosplayers — if I’m not mistaken, Saudi is giving the highest prize in the world, so this means a lot.”
She has more than 10 years of cosplay experience, and has portrayed more than 40 characters.
“Cosplay started 10 years ago in the Arab countries,” she said. “Before that it wasn’t something really well known. The first Comic-Con in Dubai was in 2010.”
Japan held the what is considered the first cosplay competition in the world in 2003, during the World Cosplay Summit. Awadh described this as the “Olympics” of cosplay competitions, with contestants from more than 30 countries participating.
In Riyadh on Monday, the judges spent nearly an hour deliberating before announcing eight prize winners.
Yelyzaveta, who judged a previous cosplay competition in Riyadh two years ago, said that among the main things she looks for as a judge are the makeup, wigs and the costumes.
“You don’t necessarily have to be great at sewing but if the whole look is good, I can live with it,” she said. “A good stage presence is also important. If you can’t portray your character well on stage it will be hard for the jury to understand why you chose the character.”
Two Saudi sisters, who chose not to share their real names but go by the stage names Hesakura and Sei, appeared on stage as Ryoma and Xander from the role-playing video game “Fire Emblem Fates” to take home the Best Cosplay Group prize, worth SR15,000 ($3,999), ahead of seven other entrants.
“Winning was really unexpected; I’m still in shock,” said Hesakura, 31, who has been cosplaying since 2016. “I was so nervous and I lost a couple of (costume) pieces on stage … I’m still absorbing the whole feeling; it feels awesome.
“When me and my sister choose characters, we have to have a mutual love for (them). We play this game together and we love ‘Fire Emblem’ so much.”
She added that the costumes and their stage performance took them about four months to prepare.
When asked how she plans to spend the prize money, Hesakura said: “Me and my sister are going to split it. I couldn’t have done it without her. Of course (we will share it) with my mom and dad; they are our biggest supporters … And the rest, of course, I will put it toward buying new materials for the next cosplay (contest).”
Other highlights during the competition included Saudi friends Mustafa Al-Jamal and Ibrahim Al-Saadoon, who were first runners-up in the Best Group category with their Genji and Hanzo costumes inspired by the popular multiplayer video game “Overwatch.”
“This is an amazing feeling,” said 24-year-old Al-Saadoon. “The audience are fantastic and finally, after the coronavirus pandemic, we are witnessing an outstanding exhibition of this magnitude where we get to do what we love most.”
In order to qualify for the cosplay competition, the contestants have to make every part of their costumes themselves, Al-Jamal explained. He added that he and Al-Saadoon are preparing to represent Saudi Arabia at the World Cosplay Summit in Japan next year.
A total prize pool of SR64,000 ($17,062) was split between the top three contestants in each of the solo and group categories. In the solo contest, the prize for first place was SR10,000 ($2,666), followed by SR7,000 ($1,866) for second and SR5,000 for third. In the group competition, first prize was SR15,000 ($3,999), second was SR10,000 ($2,666) and third SR7,000 ($1,866). Two other prizes, worth 5,000 ($1,333) each, were awarded for best-crafted cosplay and best stage show.