On its sixth day, the Red Sea International Film Festival curated a captivating array of events and films, paying homage to the cinematic arts. The day included enlightening seminars and a thought-provoking In-Conversation session featuring Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania. The grand screen played host to exclusive screenings, showcasing exceptional cinematic talents at both regional and international levels. Noteworthy premieres encompassed the world debut of the film THREE, the inaugural presentation of the Saudi film NORAH, and the Arab world premiere of ORIGIN. Festival attendees were treated to an array of cinematic experiences, including screenings of films such as THE TEACHER, TIGER STRIPES, FEZ SUMMER ’55, the documentary IN THE SHADOW OF BEIRUT, as well as HOUNDS and DAMMI, marking their premiere in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Insights from Day 6: Red Sea Souk Seminars
The Red Sea Souk serves as a pivotal meeting point for filmmakers, acting as a platform that facilitates connections between emerging talents and international production and distribution companies. Within this framework, the 360°program of the Red Sea Souk organized two seminars focusing on animation, video games, and artificial intelligence. These seminars featured captivating titles, such as “Animation and Video Games: More than Just a Kind, a World of Endless Possibilities”, attended by enthusiasts of the animation art. Additionally, the seminar “Artificial Intelligence: Filmmaking’s Doomsday or Renaissance??” The seminar dove into AI revolution in filmmaking through a panel that explored its transformative potential, from practical applications to profound questions about creativity, ethics, and the future of the media landscape.
Red Sea Souk Unveils Winners
Today, the Red Sea International Film Festival proudly announced the recipients of the prestigious Red Sea Souk Awards, which aim to provide crucial funding and in-kind grants to foster and elevate emerging talent in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world, and Africa. The awarded projects encompassed various categories, including two grants for Work-in-Progress, Hugo Salvaterra’s MY SEMBA received a $10,000 grant, while Ameer Fakher Eldin’s YUNAN was granted $30,000. Furthermore, four projects from the Red Sea Lodge were honored with production prizes, each valued at $50,000. Danielle Arbid’s LOVE CONQUERS ALL was awarded $25,000, Sameh Alaa’s WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES, I SEE YOUR EYES received $35,000, and Rani Massalha’s THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON secured a substantial $100,000 production prize. The Series Lab Awards recognized two outstanding projects, awarding them a cash prize of $10,000 each. The winning projects were EYE OF THE KITE by Saleh Al-Hamad, and OUR SON IS PRETTIER by Hanaa Saleh Alfassi.
Furthermore, four projects from the Red Sea Lodge were honored with production prizes, each valued at $50,000. Danielle Arbid’s LOVE CONQUERS ALL was awarded $25,000, Sameh Alaa’s WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES, I SEE YOUR EYES received $35,000, and Rani Massalha’s THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON secured a substantial $100,000 production prize. The Series Lab Awards recognized two outstanding projects, awarding them a cash prize of $10,000 each. The winning projects were EYE OF THE KITE by Saleh Al-Hamad, and OUR SON IS PRETTIER by Hanaa Saleh Alfassi. Additional Souk Partner Awards were bestowed by: Arab Cinema Center (ACC), Arab Radio and Television (ART), CineWaves Films, Ithra, MAD Solutions, MBC Academy/Shahid, Oticons, Shift Studios and Titrafilm.
Variety Magazine Recognizes Kaouther Ben Hania in Exclusive In-Conversation Session
The renowned Tunisian filmmaker, Kaouther Ben Hania, actively participated in an In-Conversation session dedicated to highlighting distinguished figures in the film industry. During the discussion, the director shared insights into her film featured at the Red Sea International Film Festival, Four Daughters. The film delves into the stories of girls who were drawn into the web of the terrorist organization ISIS. Director Kaouther Ben Hania drew inspiration from hearing the mothers’ perspectives, a compelling motivation that fueled the creation of this powerful film.
In the context of the preceding discussion, Ben Hania commended the film industry in the Kingdom, emphasizing its formidable standing on the global stage, a success she attributed to the generous support provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The session culminated with the director receiving an honor from Variety magazine, recognizing her exceptional contributions to the film industry.
Five Movies Grace the Red Carpet Event
On the sixth day of the Red Sea International Film Festival, the spotlight shone on the world premiere of the film THREE, featuring its star-studded cast. The cinema showcased a gripping psychological horror narrative, revolving around Ahmed a boy ensnared in a story that intricately intertwines traditional Arab and Western belief systems. Additionally, the audience was captivated by the screening of the film ORIGIN, directed by Ava Duvernay, a cinematic maestro exploring race relations. The narrative unveils connections between modern-day America, Nazi Germany, and the Indian caste system through poignant flashbacks and historical representations.
The red carpet spectacle also included the screening of DAMMI, a film narrating Mounir’s journey as he returns from the United Kingdom to Paris, delving into memories of his past and surreal facets of the present. His quest for connection with his estranged father becomes a poignant exploration of his lost Arab identity. Furthermore, the audience was treated to the Saudi film NORAH, starring Yagoub Alfarhan, the talented Abdullah Alsadhan, and a stellar ensemble. Set in a remote 1990s village, the movie follows the life of the young woman, “Norah” in her life journey and the challenges within it, as she steps out of her world upon realizing that “Nader,” the village’s new school teacher, is more than just a new teacher in the village.
Among the noteworthy screenings was the film THE TEACHER, portraying a Palestinian professor grappling with a traumatic personal experience after a tragic incident involving his son. His life takes an unexpected turn as he forms a profound bond with Adam, one of his students.
Highlighting the Malaysian Film ‘TIGER STRIPES’ in a Special Screening
Attendees at the Red Sea International Film Festival experienced the screening of TIGER STRIPES, a film narrating the tale of Zaffan, a girl enrolled in a strict girls’ school in rural Malaysia, where her youthful high spirits – dancing and climbing trees in the rainforest – mark her out as a rebel. When girls start to collapse around her with inexplicable fainting fits, she is identified by teachers as a dark spirit who has cursed the school. The film draws inspiration from the playfully scary spirit of old-school Asian monster movies as well as traditional myths.
Premier Screenings Making Their Debut in the MENA Region
On the sixth day of the Red Sea International Film Festival, attendees were treated to the screening of FEZ SUMMER ’55, delving into the memories of Moroccan resistance fighters engaged in the struggle against colonialism. The film vividly portrays acts of heroism, the fight for women’s rights, and the relentless pursuit of freedom.
The festival’s participants also had the privilege of watching the documentary IN THE SHADOW OF BEIRUT, presented in the presence of both the director and the crew. The documentary unfolds the stories of four families enduring desperate conditions in the impoverished Sabra and Shatila neighborhoods. Additionally, the audience experienced the film HOUNDS, narrating the tale of a father and son accustomed to earning a living by working for the gangs of Casablanca. Their lives take an unexpected turn when a man they were assigned to kidnap dies in their car.