JEDDAH: The first slate of films to be screened at Saudi Arabia’s upcoming Red Sea International Film Festival has been unveiled, with organizers revealing the lineup for the coveted “New Cinema/ New Saudi” section.
With the festival set to build on the lauded success of its first edition in 2021, industry leaders from around the world are gearing up to attend the second iteration, which will run between Dec. 1-10, 2022.
Program Manager at RSIFF Mohyee Qari said that the first edition was commended for the number of short films it showcased, as well as the wide variety of new filmmakers that took part.
“I am thrilled to announce the second edition’s lineup from Saudi filmmakers is once again a showcase of the country's talent who are taking creative risks and forging new pathways,” he said in a statement.
“The film industry continues to accelerate at a considerable pace and the filmmakers in this section truly represent the future of filmmaking in the Kingdom,” he added.
Sixteen films will be screened in the section, including on-screen depictions of witch craft and explorations of broken love lives.
The winner of the RSIFF’s 48-hour Filmmaking Challenge, Tala Alharbi, is also a part of the lineup with her film “When Red Blooms.” Among the list of movies is also a documentary about the Gulf War, marking its 30-year anniversary. Titled “Memories from the North,” it is directed by Abdulmohsen Almutairi.
Apart from this lineup, more than 120 films from around the world will be showcased across ten days. The wider lineup at the festival is yet to be unveiled.
The “New Cinema/ New Saudi” section lineup includes:
“Last Chance to Fall in Love”
Directed by Faisal Buhishi, this is a touching story that follows an old man who finally gets the chance to reunite with his first love after 50 years.
Directed by Ali Basaeed, “Casting” focuses on a man’s frustration caused by the interference of people in his personal life.
“Requiem for Silence”
Directed by filmmaker, producer and actor Majed Z. Samman, this film explores the struggle he has with the unwanted malicious entity who unexpectedly comes into his life, and the acceptance of their coexistence.
“YALLAH, YALLAH, BEENAH!”
Directed by Mohammed Hammad, the audience will be transported down the rabbit hole where a gang of pre-teen kids are sent on a psychedelic mission to save humanity all while under the influence of a spell put forth by a coven of witches.
“Old Phone Number”
Director Ali Saeed introduces us to Hamed (Yacoub Al-Farhan) in the midst of a mid-life crisis which prompts him to repent by travelling to Makkah to seek forgiveness and change the course of his life. However, during the desert road trip, something happens that prevents him from completing his long spiritual journey and makes him return to meet someone who lives in his past.
Jubril Mohammad gives us the tale of a bride on the most special day of life who is left jilted by the groom on her wedding night. Taking all the wedding guests with her, she bravely tracks him down to seek the answers she deserves.
Directed by Khaled Zidan, this is a story of a security guard at a government hospital's parking lot, who lives quietly with his cousin Fahd. But things soon take a turn that shakes Othman out of his stupor and forces him to face reality.
Fahad Alotaibi’s “Forward” revolves around an underground hacker who gets a phone call from the future that warns him from something serious is coming.
Directed by Mohammed Baqer, this film is about regret and pain in the experience of separation. A husband drinks his tea and painfully reminisces over situations with his ex-wife and the love and struggles they were experiencing.
Raneem Almohandis and Dana Almohandis follow Leen, a ten-year-old girl, who embarks on a trek through the woods to look for the mystery of the magical swing that her military father used to tell her stories about and promise to take her there one day.
“When Red Blooms”
Directed by Tala Alharbi and winner of the festivals 48-hour Filmmaking Challenge ventures into the mind of a girl who sets unrealistically high expectations for herself, leading to a string of self-destructiveness and morbid perfectionism.
“The Child in his Closet”
This offering is directed by Khaled Zidan and explores the theme of childhood memories, how we interpret our earliest experiences, and how they make us feel.
Directed by Salma Murad, the film tells the story of Osama, a young man in a quarrel between his emotions and memory as he tries to find a thread leading to answers.
“Memories from the North”
Abdulmohsen Almutairi’s documentary about the Gulf War follows a crew of filmmakers who witnessed the events as children set out on a journey across Saudi Arabia to capture stories of people who lived through the war.
“Lucky You're Mine”
Directed by Noura Abushosha, this is a modern Saudi marriage story. Ahmad and Salma are newlyweds, and days after the wedding, Salma has a bipolar manic episode following the sudden death of her mother. Ahmad is determined to stand by his wife, but the couple finds themselves at a crossroads and unable to talk.
Directed by Hussain Al-Mutlaq, this film follows Yehya who returns to his village to settle in after decided to drop out of college. But a visit from his father's old friend turns Yehya's life upside down which forces him leave the village.