What We Are Watching Today: Ithra on Saudi National Day

AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
1 / 6
AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
What We Are Watching Today: Ithra on Saudi National Day
2 / 6
AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
What We Are Watching Today: Ithra on Saudi National Day
3 / 6
AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
What We Are Watching Today: Ithra on Saudi National Day
4 / 6
AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
What We Are Watching Today: Ithra on Saudi National Day
5 / 6
AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
What We Are Watching Today: Ithra on Saudi National Day
6 / 6
AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
Short Url
Updated 24 September 2022

What We Are Watching Today: Ithra on Saudi National Day

AN Photos by Ahmed Al-Thani
  • Ithra Studios will provide the chance for visitors wearing traditional outfits to have their picture taken by a professional photographer against a backdrop of one of the Kingdom’s landmarks

Ithra’s iconic building has been lit up in green since Wednesday as part of the Saudi National Day celebrations and will be illuminated until Saturday.

The festivities will continue for a full weekend of fun, and local goods and designs will be on sale at a pop-up gift shop inside. Outside, twice nightly, the Parade of Harmony will get visitors clapping as a group of military musicians from the Saudi army march to the beat in the Lush Garden.

Always a promoter of movies, the Ithra Cinema — which recently hosted the Saudi Film Festival — will screen a selection of 30-minute short films directed, produced and acted by Saudis.

Ithra Studios will provide the chance for visitors wearing traditional outfits to have their picture taken by a professional photographer against a backdrop of one of the Kingdom’s landmarks.

The Children’s Museum will feature a range of immersive activities, as will the Children’s Oasis. The Energy Exhibit will offer a storytelling experience where guests are invited to reflect on the various stages of the Kingdom’s prosperity over time.

Expat residents and visitors are also invited to join in the celebrations.

One such guest was Phelia, who is from the US and has been living in the Kingdom for the past seven years. She brought her mother along — who is visiting from the US — after finding out about the event on the Ithra website. They were keen to explore such cultural offerings as tasting Saudi coffee, clapping along to live music and watching the traditional dances.

“We are here at one of the many days events for the Saudi National Day, which is 92-years-old,” she said. “I’m here to see the different festivities that they have. In order for you to know the true feel you have to come and experience it yourself,” she told Arab News.

 

 


US director Oliver Stone explores Saudi film scene at Red Sea International Film Festival  

US director Oliver Stone explores Saudi film scene at Red Sea International Film Festival  
Updated 03 December 2022

US director Oliver Stone explores Saudi film scene at Red Sea International Film Festival  

US director Oliver Stone explores Saudi film scene at Red Sea International Film Festival  

JEDDAH: Lauded US director Oliver Stone took part in a roundtable discussion at the ongoing Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.  

When asked by Arab News if he would consider filming in Saudi Arabia, he said: “My time is limited, I’m 76 years old. What do you want me to do, come down here and learn a whole different culture? No, I don’t think that’s possible. I have one project in mind, which I can’t tell you because nobody knows about it and if I can get that done, I would be very happy.” 

 

 

“The Middle East has tremendous potential, economically too. People are putting money here, no question,” he added.  

When commenting on film’s ability to act as a cultural bridge, he said “I imagine cinema has played a huge role, but on the other hand cinema is also very violent and revenge-motivated — those stories always seem to work — so you could say that’s not a good example for the world… so it’s double-edged, it depends on the movie.” 

 

 

Stone’s latest documentary “Nuclear” is screening at the festival on Sunday.  

Prior to his private discussion, the “Scarface” director and RSIFF jury president took to the stage at the opening ceremony of the festival on Thursday to share his views on Saudi Arabia.  

Stone said the country is “much misunderstood in the present world – people who have judged too harshly should come and visit to see for themselves.” He also noted “changes” and “reforms” taking place in the Kingdom, which he said make it worth a visit.  

Commenting on the 15-strong competition slate, the Oscar-winning director said: “These films stick to very basic ideas of survival, migration, suffering. There’s a real spirit here, which is growing,” according to Variety.  

The event will continue until Dec. 10 under the slogan “Film is Everything.”  

The festival is set to showcase 131 feature films and shorts from 61 countries, in 41 languages, made by established and emerging talents. Seven feature films and 24 shorts from Saudi Arabia will also be shown. 


Review: Red Sea title ‘Shimoni’ is both devastating and meaningful  

Review: Red Sea title ‘Shimoni’ is both devastating and meaningful  
Updated 03 December 2022

Review: Red Sea title ‘Shimoni’ is both devastating and meaningful  

Review: Red Sea title ‘Shimoni’ is both devastating and meaningful  

JEDDAH: “Shimoni (The Pit)” — part of the ongoing Red Sea International Film Festival — was written and directed with a lot of feeling by Kenya’s Angela Wamai. It is a devastating look at what happens when a community fails to care for a fallen man. Wamai's ability to tell a story through long silences add to the tension, aided by some wonderfully neat editing. The use of light and shade to take us through the moods of the moment to create a fantastic feeling, and our hearts go out to Geoffrey (Justin Mirichii), who suffers through a childhood trauma and a punishingly long jail term.  

Wamai's writing presents an authentic picture of this deeply religious churchgoing village, where the pastor's word is the law. (Supplied)

Released from prison seven years after being charged with homicide, Geoffrey shudders when he is asked to live in the village where he grew up and where horrifying memories torment him. Once a brilliant English teacher, the former convict is uneasy when he is asked to do farm work. His boss is a talkative woman, Martha (Muthoni Gathecha), who is displeased with him.  

The village priest has his own agenda — he wants Geoffrey to repent for his sins and gives the fallen man a sermon every night. But when the pastor insists that the young man meet with the victim's family, the uneasiness is excruciating.   

What ultimately proves to be a tipping point is when village gossip becomes unbearable for him. Beatrice (Vivian Wambui), just about to get out of her teen years, is another source of irritation for him, when her curiosity pushes her to play with fire. 

Wamai's writing presents an authentic picture of this deeply religious churchgoing village, where the pastor's word is the law. The only person who appears outside this circle is Martha, who loves playing the sleuth. Interestingly, the script offers a lovely view of the relationship between her and Geoffrey — their meetings are both tense and witty and the movie, set in the Kenyan countryside, goes to underline the trauma of an individual when he has had a run in with the law.  


Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh

Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh
Updated 02 December 2022

Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh

Music enthusiasts sport hoodies at MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 in Riyadh
  • “I have been here since it all started in 2019, and every year I am surprised by the changes, and this year we noticed a better organization in the parking area,” Nana, who was visiting the music festival with her friends, told Arab News

RIYADH: As the mercury dropped in Riyadh, thousands of music enthusiasts flocked to MDLBEAST Soundstorm 2022 on Thursday in Riyadh sporting hoodies and jackets in a variety of colors and designs.

Nana, a 22-year-old, was spotted in the Dance Tent (one of MDLBEAST’s stages) wearing a colorful 70s style jacket with ripped jeans and glitter around her eyes.

“I have been here since it all started in 2019, and every year I am surprised by the changes, and this year we noticed a better organization in the parking area,” Nana, who was visiting the music festival with her friends, told Arab News.

Many clothing stores at the event focused on selling hoodies and comfortable streetwear.

MDLBEAST also has a customization station where visitors can have pictures or letters printed on their hoodies and T-shirts.

FASTFACTS

• Many clothing stores at the event focused on selling hoodies and comfortable streetwear.

• MDLBEAST also has a customization station where visitors can have pictures or letters printed on their hoodies and T-shirts.

• Another Saudi brand that took part in the festival was Rich/Anonymous.

Reshma Choudhary, manager of the MDLBEAST store, said that people like to buy souvenirs from the festival so that when they return home, they can treasure a piece of MDLBEAST.

“The MDLBEAST brand is growing now, and it’s really good for us to have personalized merchandise, especially for people here who come here to have fun; it’s good to take it as a souvenir now, and I think it’s a good collaboration with the Saudi artists to do something cool,” Choudhary said.

Another Saudi brand that took part in the festival was Rich/Anonymous.

Founder Abdullah Marwan said: “I think it’s important to participate in MDLBEAST as it gives exposure because there are thousands of people here, and it fits our niche in terms of consumers … and the Riyadh style has gone hardcore into hoodies in the last couple of years, so this is why we have special edition hoodies in our brand inspired by MDLBEAST.”

Fahad Al-Qahttani, an Emirati citizen who came all the way from Dubai to attend the festival, wore a leather jacket, sunglasses, bandana and 70s-style colored pants.

“I visit Riyadh often because of all the activities that I find here, and I didn’t miss the MDLBEAST last year … and I love what people are wearing tonight,” Al-Qahttani said.

 


What We Are Watching Today: Wednesday on Netflix

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 02 December 2022

What We Are Watching Today: Wednesday on Netflix

Photo/Supplied
  • Over eight episodes of “Wednesday”, the lead character is forced to be the new girl at a fancy boarding school after getting caught torturing boys who bullied her brother

As the weather cools and the sky darkens earlier, Netflix has the perfect macabre mood piece: “Wednesday,” centered on the sullen 16-year-old daughter in the Addams family.

Jenna Ortega, who the feisty girl next door in season two of the streaming service’s “You,” gives the performance of a lifetime. She delivers deadpan one-liners and executes slow burns and calculated revenge plots with determination

Wednesday the character first appeared in New Yorker magazine in the late 1930s in a comic strip created by Charles Addams. Since then she and her kooky family — Gomez and Morticia, young son Pugsley, Uncle Fester and a disembodied hand, Thing — have become pop icons.

Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Morticia in this new adaptation by director Tim Burton. Christina Ricci, who took the character Wednesday to another level in the Addams Family films of the 1990s, is in the new series but in a different role.

Ortega makes the gloomy girl her own in this new show.

Over eight episodes of “Wednesday”, the lead character is forced to be the new girl at a fancy boarding school after getting caught torturing boys who bullied her brother. The school has a place in Addams Family’s history — her parents met there decades earlier.

Trying to carve out her own niche within the student body, Wednesday goes on quests, attempting to solve mysteries while keeping her own identity as a novelist and musician.

Murder, betrayal, friendship and deep family connections that never seem to die are all carefully dissected and explored.

While the costumes and the cinematography are stunning, some of the plot lines leave gaping holes and some of the writing is stunted and predictable. It seems like a clumsy stab of reviving a watered-down version of the original.

However, “Wednesday” masterfully tackles topics including generational trauma caused by toxic family members. The teen characters are allowed to explore ways in which they were masters of their own destinies, regardless of what — or who — stood in their way.

Some sharp pop culture nerds will notice the many Easter eggs sprinkled in from across the decades, including lyrics to Taylor Swift songs and a version of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.”

Perhaps the best update was how many of these teenagers strived to be independent thinkers — and that’s a future worth dying for.

The series is streaming on Netflix MENA.

 

 


British filmmaker Guy Ritchie envisions bright future for Saudi film industry

British filmmaker Guy Ritchie envisions bright future for Saudi film industry
Updated 03 December 2022

British filmmaker Guy Ritchie envisions bright future for Saudi film industry

British filmmaker Guy Ritchie envisions bright future for Saudi film industry

RIYADH: British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, most famous for his hit gangster films, the "Sherlock Holmes" franchise and his live-action "Aladdin" adaptation, said that Saudi Arabia is ripe for building a successful film industry, at the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

The director was speaking to Arab News on day two of the film festival in Jeddah.

Guy Ritchie at the photocall at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Friday. (Getty Images)

"What's interesting about (Saudi Arabia) is that there's such an explosion of enthusiasm. It's young and it's creative. And there's a high desire to express creativity. That makes it very interesting. So it's trying to couple the inexperience with the enthusiasm, because you have the enthusiasm and the means. And now you've just got to develop some form of experience and sub-structure," said Ritchie about the developing and nascent film industry in Saudi Arabia.

"I don't like making movies in the UK anyway. So I'd rather make movies outside of the UK. We worked in Jordan for 'Aladdin.' And that worked very well for us. We were in Spain for the last film and in Turkey for the film before that. There's no need to get out of the UK but I'd much rather work in in new and exciting environments. And for that really you just need a sub-structure in order to facilitate the ability of making movies. And I'm sure that will happen," added the filmmaker, who is attending the film festival along with his actress-wife Jacqui Ainsley.

Ritchie with his wife Jacqui Ainsley at the opening gala of the Red Sea International Film Festival on Thursday. (Getty Images)

In a separate 'In Conversation' segment on Friday, Ritchie address this topic again and said, "I think I'm very interested in this part of the world. And I think creativity should find its way into this part of the world. That's why I'm here. Really, what we're after is a fusion and the integration of cultural collaboration."

Ritchie went on to explain that for a healthy film industry to be built, incentives and subsidies for film productions are the way to go. "I can't shoot in the UK anymore because it's too busy to shoot there. That's how busy it is. And they've been able to do that because of incentives. So once you have incentives, then the other thing you need is to make a few movies here in Saudi Arabia. So other filmmakers look at the filmmakers that have gone before and then they just trust that," said Ritchie. 

Ritchie first made headlines and found international acclaim with the 1998 British black comedy crime film "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," which he wrote and directed. In an In Conversation panel at the Red Sea International Film Festival on Friday, Ritchie talked about how the film almost didn't get made. 

"This was the hardest film. I mean, it's not coal mining. So you've got relativize it within the world of how hard it is to scratch a living. But the film fell down a 1000 times before it was resurrected. And even when it came to a redistribution, you know, it was out and in and then it was out. And then it came down to, suddenly, there was one particular guy called Chris Evans, in the UK, who saw it and he loved it. And at the time, his show was the most watched show in the UK. And he pulled me on for the next week. That's really what made it a hit. He made a fuss about it, then everyone else would come," said Ritchie.