RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s movie entry in the Dutch Septimius film festival has won the award for best experimental flick.
“The Journey,” produced by Manga Productions, a subsidiary of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK foundation, becomes the first Saudi and Arab film to win an experimental-category gong at an international festival.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at the Septimius Awards ceremony held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital city.
Emirati actor Amal Mohamed was awarded the best Asian actress prize for her role in the film “218: Behind the Wall of Silence” about domestic violence, nostalgia, and revenge.
The suspense drama, directed by Emirati Nahla Al-Fahad, tells the story of three young women – with diverse backgrounds – who find themselves linked up by a mysterious event in apartment 218.
Dr. Essam Bukhary, chief executive officer of Manga Productions and executive producer of “The Journey,” said: “We are proud of ‘The Journey’ winning the Septimius award for the best experimental film for the first time in the history of Saudi and Arab cinematic films.
“It showcases that the creative content of Saudi culture can compete globally and drives us at Manga Productions to continue our journey in further developing Saudi talents, as we learned from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the importance of empowering the youth and that our ambitions are limitless.”
Abdulaziz Al-Naghmoosh, director of marketing, distribution, and business development at Manga Productions, said: “‘The Journey’ winning the Septimius award for best experimental film is another triumph and the fruit of hard work in developing Saudi talents that we constantly seek to discover, support, and enhance their skill set in the content industry, who also worked directly in the movie.
“Also, this triumph is a tribute to the efforts made in the release of ‘The Journey,’ and distributed in more than 25 European countries and 15 Asian countries. We have also signed with major broadcasting platforms to air the film.”
He pointed out that “The Journey” was available on Crunchyroll — the world’s largest collection of anime — in the US and was also broadcasting on more than 20 Japanese platforms as well as Shahid, an Arabic content streaming platform in the Middle East.
Sarah Mohammed, manager of animation at Manga Productions, said: “The success of the movie is a global tribute to the creativity of Saudi youth and the cooperation between Manga Productions and Toei Animation Co. Through this, we displayed part of our heritage and culture.
“Furthermore, this award is the result of the great efforts made in the co-production between Saudi and Japanese talents on all stages, starting with writing, designs, and artistic direction and ending with the release of the film, which, thankfully, had a wide positive resonance on local and global audiences.”
The cooperation between Manga Productions and Toei Animation added a blend of the experiences and methods of both countries. The film uses different artistic styles such as watercolor, traditional Japanese, and Van Gogh, shown for the first time in an animated movie.
“The Journey” beat off seven finalists nominated in the experimental film category that awards excellence in creating a one-of-a-kind expressive power using a unique art style.
The film festival included many international movies nominated for the final stage, which competed in multiple classes.
In addition, a group of filmmakers and several celebrities who won international awards, such as Oscars and Grammys, including US film director Kevin Willmott, and American actor Thomas Jane, attended the ceremony.
The Septimius festival aims to support creative, inspiring, and high-quality productions.
The core of Arabian history inspired the making of “The Journey.” Directed by Japanese filmmaker Shizuno Kobun, it is an epic tale set in the Arabian Peninsula, telling the story of Aws, a potter in Makkah who takes up arms to protect his city against ruthless invaders who threaten to destroy the Kaaba.
Manga Productions was established to inspire the heroes of tomorrow through animation, video games, and comics, and aims to be a pioneer on a regional and global level in the production of creative content, while contributing to the delivery of purposeful content that helps build creative and ambitious talents through development programs and internships to further develop the entertainment content industry in the region.