Art Jameel, an independent organization that supports artists, is celebrating the first anniversary of Hayy Cinema at Hayy Jameel, Jeddah’s home for the arts, marked by a collaborative program with Red Sea International Film Festival. This milestone comes after a year of engagement with the local community, which included more than 180 Saudi, regional and international films screened across thematic programs, graduation screenings, festivals and competitions.
The celebration unfolds with an exclusive, free exhibition titled “Nawartuna: The Illuminating Legacy of Asmahan and Farid Al-Atrash” (Dec. 4 — Jan. 11, 2024) and a screening of a meticulously restored Egyptian classic, “Victory of Youth” (1941). The exhibition presents rare archival material encompassing original posters, unique images and personal belongings, shared in public for the first time and paying a poignant tribute to the enduring contributions of these legendary figures. Asmahan and Al-Atrash made an indelible mark on both the music and film industry, particularly in the Arab world.
Moreover, an edition of Aflamna, an ongoing, regular series showcasing the best in upcoming Saudi filmmaking talent, takes place on Dec. 21, featuring new films and discussions with directors, producers and actors.
Antonia Carver, director, Art Jameel, said: “The launch of Hayy Cinema in 2022 marked a pivotal moment for culture in Saudi Arabia. This is ‘cinema for all’ — Saudi’s first permanent, bespoke independent cinema sets out to nurture the local film scene through immersive experiences both on the silver screen and through research-based displays, talks and workshops that shed light on the storied histories of film in the region and the trajectory of its future. Hayy Cinema enables Jeddawi enthusiasts to connect with the world through international films via festivals, popups and local and global collaborations, including with, for example, the Ministry of Culture, the Islamic Arts Biennale and Effat University School of Cinematic Arts.”
Zohra Ait El-Jamar, senior manager, Hayy Cinema, added: “Hayy Cinema is defined by its broad and accessible approach, bringing film from all over the world to Jeddah, and offering a home for Saudi films, in a way that nurtures the audience in an atmosphere of curiosity and inclusivity.” ‘Nawartuna’ is a long-term, ongoing collaboration between Art Jameel and the Red Sea International Film Festival, and part of a series focussing on illuminating the history of Arab cinema through special archival exhibitions, screenings and educational programs. We offer our sincere thanks to the Al-Atrash family for their support.”
Considered Saudi Arabia’s first permanent independent cinema and audio-visual center, Hayy Cinema expands the definition of cinema as a meeting point to watch, learn, exchange, discover and research; the complex includes a 168-seat theater, a 30-seat community screening room, a multimedia library and an educational exhibition space.