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DECEMBER 6 – 15, 2021

The First Edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival

Festival Objectives
Strong Film Market
A meeting point where films and relevant content are showcased for interested buyers; potential projects are pitched; and networks are formed.

Champion Industry Development
A platform aimed at launching and supporting strategic initiatives that help the development of the industry and the acceleration of its growth.

Cultural Hub
An initiative that showcases moving images worldwide, helping create dialogue and deep discussions, holistic understanding and fruitful relationships.

Leading Film Festival
A well-respected festival globally, championing creativity and supporting the region’s industry, bringing Arab cinema to the center stage.

48   WORLD

Over 30,000 filmgoers turned out, along with 3,115 registered professionals, for the 10-day celebration and industry networking.

The successful inaugural edition presented 138 films to over 30,000 filmgoers and 3,115 film professionals, media representatives and students who came out in force to mark the landmark Festival.
Over the ten days of the Festival, screenings were presented in 5 purpose-built theatres in the extraordinary cultural heart of Jeddah’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, old-town Al Balad. They also took place in dedicated venues across the city, in addition to a showcase of the latest leading Virtual Reality (VR) storytelling and art projects.

An array of filmmakers and talent graced the red carpets, hosted masterclasses and engaged with Festival-goers, including Haifaa Al Mansour; Yousra; Laila Eloui; Catherine Deneuve; Clive Owen; Hilary Swank; Ranveer Singh; Deepika Padukone; Anthony Mackie; Vincent Cassel; and Akshay Kumar to mention a few.

The first edition hosted 138 feature and short films from 67 countries in 34 languages, and female directors accounted for 38% of the film slate. On the other hand, an impressive 27 new Saudi films from an exciting wave of filmmakers presented the international audience with a unique opportunity to explore all aspects of Saudi society. The Festival provided a vital platform for Saudi filmmakers to present their works on the big screen to the global film community and local audiences.

The Festival’s industry market, the Red Sea Souk—designed for global exchange and partnerships between the international and Saudi film industries—ran on the sidelines of the Festival. The four-day market offered a packed program of curated events to foster co-production, international distribution and new business opportunities. In addition, the Souk provided unbeatable access to the new vibrant Saudi scene and the best of the Arab market through pitching sessions, one-on-one meetings, screenings, industry talks and networking events. It also welcomed many exhibiting companies, including buyers, sales agents, film commissions, distributors and exhibitors. The Souk concluded with more than 700,000 USD awarded to projects selected in the Red Sea Souk Awards.

Following the Souk, Festival-goers had the opportunity to attend Talent Days; a two-day initiative designed to support the development of the next generation of Saudi filmmakers.

The Festival’s film competition saw Academy Award-winning Italian director and writer Giuseppe Tornatore as Jury President. Along with his fellow jurors, they presented 13 Yusr Awards to recognize the highest achievements in storytelling. ‘Brighton 4th’ directed by Levan Koguashvili scooped Best Film, and the Festival’s Audience Award went to Hamzah K. Jamjoom for ‘Rupture’ and ‘You Resemble Me’ directed by Dina Amer.

Red Sea Fund

Throughout the year, the Red Sea International Film Festival supports the next generation of filmmakers from Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. The Red Sea Lodge accepts submissions from teams of Saudi and Arab directors, producers and scriptwriters. In addition, last year, the Red Sea Fund announced a $14 million initiative that has supported 97 projects from Africa and the Arab world in development and post-production with grants and funds to help bring their films to global audiences.

The Second Edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival

The second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival will bring the best in Arab and world cinema to Jeddah from 1-10 December 2022.

The Festival will showcase a compelling slate of new and diverse films, alongside a retrospective program celebrating the masters of cinema and introducing audiences to exciting new voices from the region and beyond. In addition, the Festival will provide a platform for Arab filmmakers and industry professionals worldwide to connect; host feature and short film competitions; and present a series of events, masterclasses, and workshops to support emerging talent.