RIYADH: The ninth Ambassador’s Choice International Film Festival recently opened at the Embassy of India in Riyadh with the screening of Saudi drama “The Tambour of Retribution.”
The film, directed by Abdul Aziz Al-Shelahi, has been nominated as Saudi Arabia’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards. It will compete with films from around the world and will pass through several screening stages before the final list is announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The winner will be announced at the Oscars, which will be held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on March 27.
Chosen by the Saudi Film Commission and nominated by the Saudi Academy Awards Committee as an official entry to the Oscars, “The Tambour of Retribution” has won Best Feature Film at the Saudi Film Festival. It was shown for the first time at the Cairo Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award. It was also shown at the Malmo Arab Film Festival in Sweden and won the Best Director Award.
In his inaugural address, Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed congratulated Al-Shelahi for the film, which was screened on the inaugural day of the film festival, as well as for the nomination of his movie for the Oscars, wishing him all the best.
Applauding the movie, the Indian envoy said it represents the rich content and talent that the Saudi film industry has to offer to the world.
Later, in an interactive session with the audience, Al-Shelahi briefed them about his experiences during the production of the movie and expressed his happiness and pride at representing Saudi Arabia in the Oscar race for the best international film category.
He credited the actors associated with the film for their hard work, praising them for their passion for the craft.
Commenting on “The Tambour of Retribution,” Meshal Al-Mutairi, chairman of the Saudi Film Association and chief guest at the inaugural ceremony, said: “We are very happy for it. It’s a very good movie, one of the best in recent years and the right nominee for the Oscars. It has won awards in Cairo and other international awards, and we hope it will be shortlisted for the Oscar award.”
The Embassy of India is hosting the ninth edition of the Ambassador’s Choice International Film Festival from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7 in collaboration with the Saudi Film Association and nine other embassies, which include those of Australia, Bangladesh, France, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Sri Lanka and the US.
The festival was inaugurated by the Indian ambassador along with his counterparts from other participating embassies and Al-Mutairi.
Sayeed thanked the embassies and Saudi authorities for their collaboration. While talking about Indian cinema, he said that the film industry is not only a contributor to the Indian economy but a cultural bridge between India and the world.
He said that Saudi Arabia and India have a very strong film connection in Ebrahim Al-Kazi, a renowned drama teacher and founder-director of the prestigious New Delhi-based National School of Drama.
The renowned theater director, often referred to as the “father of Indian theater,” has Saudi roots in his father, Hamad bin Ali Al-Kazi, who was a trader from Unaiza in the Qassim region and who eventually settled in Pune, India.
The envoy added that Indian cinema, due to its extensive outreach, has contributed to the popularization of several countries as tourist destinations, with Bollywood functions like film festivals, award shows, cultural carnivals and concerts enriching the economies of the countries hosting them.
Referring to Saudi cinema, the ambassador mentioned that although it is a nascent industry, it has already established a strong presence on the global stage.
He underlined that the sector offers enormous potential for growth and is bound to play a significant role in the actualization of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals.
The inauguration of the festival was attended by diplomats, Saudi nationals, journalists, members of the Indian community and other expatriates.
The festival will screen 12 movies of diverse genres, which include many acclaimed movies such as Indian film “Nil Batte Sannata,” American film “Hamilton,” Sri Lankan film “Nela,” Saudi film “Scales,” Australian film “Gurrumul” and Mexican film “Mezquite’s Heart.”