JEDDAH: The inaugural Red Sea Film Festival conference took place on Tuesday.
Conference panelists were interviewed by the TV presenter Raya Abirached. The panalists were Antoine Khalife, director of Arab programs and film classics for the festival; Kaleem Aftab, director of international programming for the festival; Shivani Pandya Malhotra, managing director of the festival; Mohammad Al-Turki, chairman of the festival committee; Samaher Mously, head of communication and marketing; and Edouard Waintrop, artistic director of the festival.
The conference discussed all aspects of the festival and the impact it will have on the future of cinema in the Kingdom and region. The movies showcased comprise 138 films from 65 countries and in 34 languages. The diverse collection caters for all age groups, and includes children’s movies, anime and 3D immersive experiences.
The festival will open with a movie that has Oscar buzz — “Cyrano,” directed by Joe Wright, which will have its world premiere on Dec. 6. Audiences in Saudi Arabia will see the movie before it reaches the US and UK.
The festival is being held at Al-Balad, the UNESCO world heritage site. Mohammad Al-Turki told Arab News: “We chose Al-Balad because of the strong, rich history in the area.
“We had those buildings that are 900 years old ... to have filmmakers and actors and filmgoers to watch movies there will offer them a double experience of being in a historical place and watching cinema.”
He said that the impact of having an international film festival in Saudi Arabia would send a message supporting young talent in the Kingdom and in the region.
Shivani Pandya Malhotra said that one of the key elements of the festival was to champion cinema in Saudi Arabia and in the Arab World. “What is really important is that we are making the world discover new talent and new films which they haven’t seen before,” she said. “The other element is that the market has just opened up and it is creating a huge opportunity for international filmmakers, studios to come and showcase their cinemas here.”
A promo for the festival will be released soon featuring some of the Saudi talents involved. “Supporting the young Saudi talent is the one thing I am looking forward to the most; we have incredible Saudi filmmakers and actors,” she said.
The Red Sea Film Festival will run from Dec. 6 to Dec. 15.