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Red Sea International Film Festival announces 2021 Red Sea Lodge Participants

March 24, 2021

12 Projects selected for 8-month program mentoring Saudi and Arab directors, producers and writers, developing inventive feature films

Two teams will be awarded $100,000 production grants at the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival

The Red Sea International Film Festival announces the 12 Arab projects selected for development at the Red Sea Lodge 2021. Six projects are from Saudi Arabia alongside projects from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon. Half of the projects are helmed by female directors, with three women in producer roles.

The emerging storytellers will convene four times digitally and finally in-person in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival, where the 12 filmmaking teams will pitch to international production companies. An independent jury will award two projects production grants of $100,000. The two awarded films will have the opportunity to world premiere at the Red Sea International Film Festival in 2022.

The 8-month monitoring program is organized in collaboration with the acclaimed TorinoFilmLab, leaders in international talent development. Teams will explore every stage of filmmaking, from script consultations to a commercial focus on financing, sales, and audience engagement. The comprehensive program includes workshops with expert tutors and international film professionals to further develop 12 original projects.

The selection committee comprised a list of leading industry experts, including Savina Neirotti (Executive Director, TorinoFilmLab), Jane Williams (Head of Industry, TorinoFilmLab), Antoine Khalife (Director of the Arab Program, Red Sea International Film Festival), Kaleem Aftab (Director of International Programming, Red Sea International Film Festival) and Edouard Waintrop (Advisor, Red Sea International Film Festival).

They were supported by a team of readers, including Faisal Alharbi (Film Producer and Director) and Deema Azar (Film Producer and Script Consultant). Saudi producer Jumana Zahid leads the Festival’s development program as Manager of the Red Sea Lodge.

The selected projects include biopics, romance, fantasy and journeys of self-discovery, and range across significant socio-political themes, looking at contemporary interpersonal challenges of marriage and family, mental health struggles and the pain and beauty of love. There are also explorations of major moments of societal transformation, including the expansion of the Mongol empire and early oil speculation.

The selected projects are:

Saudi Projects

Fiery Eyes

Director and writer: Abduljalil Al-nasser

Producer: Ayman Jamal 

Set in the 1940s, amid the vast deserts of the newly established Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Batla finds herself in a tense conflict with the men of her tribe after her husband goes missing.

Hala’s Aziz

Director: Jowaher Alamri

Writer: Jowaher Alamri and Jude Elmasoud

Producer: Mohammed Sendi

Trapped in a marriage to a toxic narrow-minded man, a desperate wife decides to leave their crippling relationship, leading both to go on life-changing journeys.

Raoya – The Bookkeeper

Director: Mahmoud Zaini

Writer: Ieva Radina

Producer: Omar Mugeem

It’s the 12th century, and the Mongol empire is expanding across the world. During the siege of Baghdad, a young girl finds herself trapped in a strange world inhabited by flightless birds.

The Photographer of Madina

Director: Dalyah Bakheet

Writer: Afnan Bawyan

Producer: Saleem Homsi

Based on the true story of Khadija, a female photographer from Medina who opens a studio for women, the first in Saudi Arabia.

Within Sand

Director: Moe Alatawi

Writer: Moe Alatawi

Producer: Mohammad Alghamdi

Snam, a 23-year-old tobacco merchant, is ambushed by thieves in the desert, leaving him with only a dagger. He encounters a lone wolf on his desperate search for a way home.


Director: Abrar Abdulaziz

Writer: Bashayer Abdulaziz

Producer: Bakr Alduhaim

In 1938, at the port of Jeddah, three generations of women journey towards Mekkah, much to their Afghani family’s chagrin.



The Zarqa Girl

Director: Zaid Abu Hamdan

Writer: Zaid Abu Hamdan

Producer: Ahmad Abu Koush

In Zarqa, Jordan, an abandoned girl grows up to become the biggest and most feared thug in the city. Based on a true story.

Seeking Haven for Mr. Rambo

Director: Khaled Mansour

Writer: Mohamed El-Hosseiny

Producer: Rasha Hosny

30-year-old Hassan lives with his mother and Rambo, his dog and only friend, in an old and impoverished Cairo district. After a neighbor proposes a dogfight, Hassan must flee with his trusted companion.

The Sea Needs to Heave

Director: Zain Duraie

Writer: Zain Duraie

Producer: Alaa Alasad

Nadia has a special bond with her eldest son Basil, a 17-year-old genius. However, Nadia ignores the warning signs of a mental health problem when Basil begins to behave erratically.

The Day of Wrath: Tales from Tripoli

Director: Rania Rafei

Writer: Rania Rafei

Producer: Jinane Dagher 

A hybrid-documentary recreating five uprisings from different periods in history. A portrait of Tripoli through its collective desire for change.

Road 250

Director: Haya Alghanim

Writer: Haya Alghanim

Producer: Nadia Ahmad

After years of living abroad, Dima, the daughter of a diplomat, returns to Kuwait, where she has to adapt to her new surroundings and classmates in an all-girls school.

It’s a Sad and Beautiful World

Director: Cyril Aris

Writer: Cyril Aris

Producer: Georg Neubert

Lebanese couple Nino and Soraya seemed destined to live happily-ever-despite the harsh world around them. But things go awry after Soraya unexpected falls pregnant.