Film AlUla’s Charlene Deleon-Jones talks filming in Saudi Arabia at Cannes Film Fest

Film AlUla’s Charlene Deleon-Jones talks filming in Saudi Arabia at Cannes Film Fest
Executive Director of Film AlUla Charlene Deleon-Jones shared the organization’s initiatives to create a sustainable film ecosystem during a Variety Fireside Chat session. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 22 May 2023
Follow

Film AlUla’s Charlene Deleon-Jones talks filming in Saudi Arabia at Cannes Film Fest

Film AlUla’s Charlene Deleon-Jones talks filming in Saudi Arabia at Cannes Film Fest

CANNES: In a serene desert area speckled with giant rock formations that frame an ancient city, a UNESCO World Heritage site has become the latest film destination being sought after by international filmmakers. 

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla has attracted both local creatives and big-budget Hollywood productions. At the 76th Cannes Film Festival, Executive Director of Film AlUla Charlene Deleon-Jones shared the organization’s initiatives to create a sustainable film ecosystem during a Variety Fireside Chat session. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Film AlUla (@filmalula)

“We’ve seen massive changes from somewhere where previously you wouldn’t necessarily have been going to the cinema, to somewhere that is ready and open to support filming from around the world. Not just domestic film, but international film,” she said. 

Film AlUla has invested in the local film infrastructure — the facilities currently include 150 self-contained villas to accommodate visiting crew, set to be 300 by October, with two state-of-the-art soundstages set to launch in October.

Deleon-Jones Said: “We’ve been gifted the land around the studios as far as the eye can see. It’s prime for backlot and development as well.

“When you have government involved in opening up locations, it can become incredibly bureaucratic and difficult to do things. So how do we ensure that we’re compliant and not being wasteful with government funds, but making it as easy as possible for anyone who’s interested in film and have asked to film with us?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Film AlUla (@filmalula)

In order make the process as smooth as possible, Film AlUla established a dedicated team of specialists to help with pre-production stages, scouting for locations and providing images according to script treatments and storyboards, and they also help with any required visas and paperwork. 

Upcoming blockbuster “Kandahar,” starring Gerard Butler, was shot predominantly in AlUla and was the first Hollywood production to film entirely in Saudi Arabia. 

Film AlUla is facilitating a community screening, dedicated to Saudi Arabia-based cast and crew members, including those who supported the production with transportation and catering services. 

AlUla will soon serve as a backdrop for various local and international productions, including films from the US, Bollywood, and Korean film industry. 

Deleon-Jones said: “The challenge is getting that right balance between watering grounds for domestic and regional productions, and also being available for international productions. 

“We have a very strong connection in association with the Red Sea Film Foundation and Festival. And I think what’s really fantastic about the work they do is it’s very open. They look at developing homegrown talent from a Middle Eastern and African perspective as well. 

“From a creativity perspective, we’ve hosted Middle East and African filmmakers in various different labs, and that’s something we intend to continue to invest time and energy in,” she added.


‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes

‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes
Updated 19 May 2024
Follow

‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes

‘Goodbye Julia’ wins big at Critics Awards for Arab Films in Cannes

DUBAI: Sudanese first-time director Mohamed Kordofani’s “Goodbye Julia” won the best feature film and best screenplay awards at the eighth Critics Awards for Arab Films that took place on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

French-Tunisian composer Amin Bouhafa, who worked on “Hajjan,” won the best music award for the Saudi Arabia-based film. 

Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s hybrid docudrama “Four Daughters,” which missed out on the Best Documentary win at this year’s Academy Awards, scored three prizes: Best director for Ben Hania, best documentary and best editing.

Amjad Al-Rasheed’s “Inshallah a Boy” picked up the best actress prize for Palestinian star Mouna Hawa and best cinematography for Kanamé Onoyama.

Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri nabbed the best actor prize for his role in “The Teacher” while Egyptian filmmaker Morad Mostafa’s “I Promise You Paradise” came out on top in the best short film category.

The awards ceremony is organized by the Cairo-based Arab Cinema Centre (ACC) and winners are voted on by 225 critics from more than 70 countries.  


Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes

Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes
Updated 19 May 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes

Saudi Arabia’s RSIFF hosts ‘Women in Cinema’ gala in Cannes
  • Rosie Huntington Whitley, Richard Gere, Minnie Driver, Alexa Chung, Uma Thurman and Eiza González attended the event, among other international celebrities

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) hosted the “Women in Cinema” Gala in partnership with Vanity Fair Europe in Cannes on Saturday, attracting celebrities from across the world.

Richard Gere poses with Mohammed Al-Turki. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

The glitzy gala dinner took place after RSIFF presented the “Women in Cinema” panel discussion during the Variety Global Conversations event earlier in the day.

The panel featured Egyptian actress and model Salma Abu Deif, Indian actress Kiara Advani,  Thai actress, model and singer Sarocha Chankimha (also known as Freen), Saudi actress Adhwa Fahad, Saudi singer and actress Aseel Omran, and French-Senegalese director Ramata Toulaye-Sy. The talents spoke about their early beginnings, their career breakthroughs and their sources of inspiration during the panel talk.

Aseel Omran pictured at the event. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

Those stars and many more attended the evening’s festivities at the iconic Hotel Du Cap.

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” actress Eiza González, model Ikram Abdi, supermodel Naomi Campbell and actress Dorra Zarrouk were among the star-studded guest list.

Rosie Huntington Whitley, Richard Gere, Minnie Driver, Raya Abirashed, Alexa Chung, Wallis Day, Lucas Bravo and Uma Thurman also attended the event. 

Yousra attended the event in Cannes. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

“The Red Sea International Film Festival (#RedSeaIFF) and Vanity Fair Europe reunited to host the #WomenInCinema Gala, championing the achievements of rising female talent on both sides of the camera who are reshaping the film industry in Saudi Arabia, Africa, Asia and the Arab world,” the Red Sea Film Foundation posted on Instagram.

Saudi Arabia is playing a key role at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, having supported four projects that are screening at the event.

Eva Longoria and Eiza González snap a selfie. (Ammar Abd Rabbo)

“Norah,” “The Brink of Dreams,” “To A Land Unknown” and “Animale” will screen as part of the Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight and Critic’s Week programs at Cannes. The Red Sea Film Foundation supported the projects through the Red Sea Fund and the Red Sea Souk.

RSIFF CEO Mohammed Al-Turki has been spotted on multiple red carpets throughout the event so far and walked the opening night’s red carpet alongside Jomana Al-Rashid, CEO of the Saudi Research and Media Group.

 


Day 2 highlights of Red Sea Fashion Week: A historic swimwear show and elegant lace

Day 2 highlights of Red Sea Fashion Week: A historic swimwear show and elegant lace
Updated 19 May 2024
Follow

Day 2 highlights of Red Sea Fashion Week: A historic swimwear show and elegant lace

Day 2 highlights of Red Sea Fashion Week: A historic swimwear show and elegant lace

RED SEA: Moroccan label EAU made history when it kicked off the second set of Red Sea Fashion Week shows on Friday, marking the first time swimwear has featured on a Saudi runway.

With the glistening St. Regis pool and swaying palm trees as a backdrop, the second RSFW began by highlighting one of summer’s essential pieces.

EAU. (Supplied)

The collection featured simple swimwear that ranged from one-pieces with deep V-cuts and off-shoulder motifs to bandeau tops and various sarongs. Royal blues, mustard yellows, hunter greens and maroon reds dominated the collection, setting a rather curious, but not unwelcome, fall palette for the upcoming summer season.

Some of the sleek looks were coupled with silky headwear and sophisticated handbags, including woven baskets dotted with rhinestones, straw beach bags, and fringe clutches.

Sarah Altwaim. (Supplied)

More fashion flowed as the Red Sea glowed. Sara Altwaim brought her silhouettes to the poolside runway. The collection kicked off with a number of white flowing lace and chiffon dresses, each catching the eye with individual flair, subtle beaded pearls, layered cuts or mix of fabrics.

Altwaim introduced an underwater-inspired chiffon fabric featuring sketches of seabed creatures, such as fish, shrimp, and crab, that made its way into a variety of ensembles.

 

 

Heavily-layered pearl neck pieces, sarong-like skirts, bejeweled fishnets, metallic fabrics, and flowing garments also drew their inspiration from marine life.

Saudi designer Yasmina Q introduced loungewear to the mix, ending the shows with a collection of knitted rib dresses in mint greens, seafoam blues, bright yellows, corals, and more.

 

 

The signature silhouette featured flared sleeves and a fitted waist that flowed into an A-line shape, while some of the pieces were also sleeveless for a more daytime summer look. Her collection, styled with summery bucket hats and sunglasses, also showcased an array of loungewear, from ribbed bottoms to simple fitted tops, fitted ribbed button-downs, kimono tops, and loose sweaters.


Tina Kunakey fronts Amina Muaddi’s latest campaign

Tina Kunakey fronts Amina Muaddi’s latest campaign
Updated 18 May 2024
Follow

Tina Kunakey fronts Amina Muaddi’s latest campaign

Tina Kunakey fronts Amina Muaddi’s latest campaign

DUBAI: French model Tina Kunakey this week starred in Romanian Jordanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi’s latest summer-inspired campaign.

Kunakey, who has Moroccan origins, showcased Muaddi’s new BRITO slipper, a single block of plexiglass carved into the designer’s signature flared heel.

The handcrafted square-toed heels, made in Italy, come in hues of orange, purple, blue, pink, black and transparent.

The model shared pictures of the campaign on Instagram. (Instagram)

This marks Kunakey’s third collaboration with Muaddi. The model shared her thoughts on Instagram about working with the part-Arab designer once again.

“My admiration for you only deepens,” Kunakey wrote, sharing a picture of herself in the pool for the shoot.

“Season after season, each new campaign your talent shines brighter. You continuously push boundaries, and your commitment to excellence is as inspiring as it is contagious,” she added. “I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this journey and am so grateful to share this path with you, not just as your model, but as your friend.

“Thank you for trusting me since the very beginning. I love you. I am so proud of you and I am excited, and so full of love for what you’ve built and what’s to come.”

In addition to her collection of shoes, Muaddi’s jewelry and bag lines are also gaining acclaim among her celebrity clientele. The shoemaker’s label has garnered a loyal list of famous fans, including Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber Baldwin.

Muaddi launched her eponymous footwear line in August 2018, about one year after departing from her role as co-founder and creative director of luxury footwear label Oscar Tiye.

The creator also helped design the shoes for Rihanna’s Fenty collection. The collaboration received the Collaborator of the Year award at the 34th edition of the FN Achievement Awards in 2020.

A year later, she landed a spot on Women’s Wear Daily and Footwear News’ 50 Most Powerful Women list.

Her jewelry collection encompasses rings, earrings and bangles, while her handbag range includes a variety of styles, from sleek clutches with striking embellishments to bold totes and crossbody bags.

Some of the bags are embellished with sparkling crystals or intricate sequins, while others are made from satin or leather and feature metallic finishes. The color palette includes classic cream, brown, black, red and silver.


Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney

Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney
Updated 18 May 2024
Follow

Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney

Hoor Al-Qasimi appointed artistic director of the Biennale of Sydney

DUBAI: The Biennale of Sydney announced this week that Emirati creative Hoor Al-Qasimi will become its artistic director for 2026.

The 25th edition of the biennale will run from March 7 to June 8.

Since its inception in 1973, the biennale has grown to become one of the longest-running exhibitions of its kind and was the first biennale established in the Asia-Pacific region.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by IBA (@biennialassociation)

Al-Qasimi created the Sharjah Art Foundation in 2009 and is currently its president and director. Throughout her career, she acquired extensive experience in curating international biennials, including the second Lahore Biennale in 2020 and the UAE Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

In 2003, she co-curated the sixth edition of Sharjah Biennial and has remained the director of the event since.

Al-Qasimi has been president of the International Biennial Association since 2017 and is also president of the Africa Institute. She has previously served as a board member for MoMA PS1 in New York and the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, among other roles.

She is also the artistic director of the sixth Aichi Triennale, scheduled to take place in Japan in 2025.