JEDDAH: The Red Sea Documentary Film Days is showcasing six documentaries from Saudi Arabia, France, Guinea, Syria, and Iraq, exploring themes of migration, camaraderie, and cinema archives at Hayy Cinema in Jeddah.
The event, which kicked off on Thursday and will run until June 25, is co-curated by the Red Sea International Film Festival Foundation and Art Jameel.
It is showcasing three Saudi films: “Yallah, Yallah, Beenah!,” “The King’s Poem,” and “Memories From The North”; and three international films: Iraq’s “My Lost Country,” Guinea/France’s “The Cemetery of Cinema,” and Syria’s “Becoming Iphigenia.”
In a press release, Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival Foundation, described documentaries as an “integral” part of film culture that help raise awareness on important issues.
“We are excited to showcase this medium as documentaries become more popular than ever, winning many of world cinema’s top festival prizes,” he added.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Kaleem Aftab, director of international programming at the Red Sea International Film Festival Foundation, said that through the Red Sea Documentary Film Days, the foundation is “looking at partners and collaborators to show films that are a little bit more tricky and (that) Saudi audiences are not used to.
“We are more used to narrative dramas, not so used to having documentaries.”
The Red Sea International Film Festival Foundation and Hayy Jameel previously partnered for “Red Sea: Immersive at Hayy Jameel,” a program of virtual reality experiences organized as part of the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival back in 2021.
Speaking of the collaboration with Art Jameel, an organization that supports artists and creative communities, Aftab said that Hayy Jameel is a perfect partner.
“They have a wonderful location, a great cinema, and we have similar sensibilities and a desire to engage with the public in Jeddah to further arts and to create debate,” he said.
“Yallah, Yallah, Beenah!,” “Becoming Iphigenia,” and “The Cemetery of Cinema” (which also played at the Berlin Film Festival), premiered in the Middle East and North Africa region for the first time during the event’s opening weekend.
“We are very happy because all of these films received support from the (foundation),” Aftab said, adding that the screenings provide an opportunity for the public to “engage with not just cinema or documentaries, but with ideas.”
Saudi director Mohammed Hammad of “Yallah, Yallah, Beenah!” said: “The film is a dedication to the city of Jeddah, which I remember as a kid and pre-teen.”
The Red Sea Documentary Film Days is accompanied by an extended public program that includes talks and workshops for all ages.
To learn more about the program, documentaries or to book tickets, visit: https://www.hayycinema.org/