JEDDAH: Lauded US director Oliver Stone is set to head the jury at the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival, it was announced on Monday at Shangri-La Jeddah in the presence of local and international celebrities and local press.
Under the slogan “Film is Everything,” the festival will feature 131 feature and short films, including 23 Saudi short films, 28 international short films, and seven feature films.
It will also provide a platform for Arab filmmakers and industry professionals from around the world to connect, host, and present a series of events, masterclasses, and workshops to support emerging talent.
During the festival, an official competition will be held for long and short films from Asia, Africa and the Arab world. Winners from each competition will be announced on Dec. 8.
Samaher Mously, director of marketing and communications at the event, said: “RSIFF is not just a film festival, it is a cultural forum in which we exchange our technical, cultural experiences, knowledge, and discover new dimensions. It serves as an important platform through which we support the film industry at the local and regional levels.”
Festival CEO Mohammed Al-Turki also unveiled the opening and closing films.
Cross-cultural British rom-com “What’s Love Got to Do With It” will open the festival, which runs from Dec. 1-10.
The film, directed by Shekhar Kapur, stars Lily James, Emma Thompson, Shazad Latif, Rob Brydon, Shabana Azmi, Sajal Aly, and Asim Chaudhry.
“Valley Road” by Saudi director Khaled Fahed will be the last film shown at the film festival.
The festival also announced last week that Film AlUla, an agency established to promote production in the city, is the new strategic sponsor of this year’s edition.
Film AlUla will present the Audience Award and the Best Saudi Film Award, each worth $50,000.
“We went all over the world with the festival and the Red Sea name was present all over Cannes, Toronto, and so on, so I can’t believe we’re actually here being ready, one month away from our festival,” Al-Turki added.
“It is pretty incredible to see so many Arab films making their way globally. Our mission continues to champion emerging established filmmakers. It is a transformative moment happening in Saudi film within artificial selection.”
Director Antoine Khalife said that the growth of the Saudi film industry is thrilling.
“The vitality of Saudi cinema is excellent, and I am very happy that we are able to see this great achievement. I would like to mention that the vitality of the cinema does not depend only on dialogues and the script but on the actors and the cooperation built between them and the director. In fact, we discovered many brilliant Saudi talents and more is yet to come.”
This year’s festival will take place at the Ritz Carlton Jeddah that has a seating capacity of 1,200. Vox Cinema will be the sponsor.