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Red Sea International Film Festival Opens Third Edition With HWJN

December 1, 2023

Film Community Gathers in Jeddah for Opening Ceremony Gala  

The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF), in partnership with VOX Cinemas, NEOM and the MBC GROUP, welcomed cinema lovers and the global film community to its the third edition, which will run from 30 November – 9 December in Jeddah. Yasir Al Yasiri’s HWJN had its world premiere to kick off the festival, and the screening was introduced by the director and lead cast: Nour Alkhadra, Baraa Alem, Naif Aldaferi, Alanoud Saud, Mohsen Mansour and Shaimaa Al Tayeb. Jury President Baz Lurhmann was in attendance with his jury – Joel Kinnaman, Freida Pinto, Amina Khalil, Paz Vega, Hana Alomair and Fatih Akin.

Set in modern-day Jeddah, HWJN follows the story of a kind-hearted jinn. As he discovers the truth about his royal lineage, HWJN (Baraa Alem) sets off on an epic journey to reclaim his birthright, while battling ancient evils to maintain the harmonious balance between his world and ours. Along the way, he meets and develops an unexpected romantic connection with Sawsan (Nour Alkhadra), a young medical student.

The Opening Night Ceremony MCs were Raya Abi Rached and Ibrahim Alhajaj, hosted by Jomana-Al Rashid, Chairwoman Red Sea Foundation and Mohammed Al Turki, CEO Red Sea Film Foundation. The Gala also saw the presentation of three honourary awards – to Abdullah Al-Sadhan, presented by Mohammed Al Turki, Diane Kruger, presented by juror Fatih Akin, and Ranveer Singh, presented by Sharon Stone, and a welcome address from festival leadership, and actor Sofia Vergara.

Jomana-Al Rashid, Chairwoman Red Sea Film Foundation said: “In the next 10 days festival-goers will experience a journey of global cinematic brilliance. We will screen 126 films from 77 countries in over 47 languages from talented directors, actors, producers, and filmmakers from every corner of the globe. At the Red Sea Film Foundation, we believe film is a transformative force and we’re committed to empowering filmmakers. Our Festival exists to provide a platform for stories that can change the world.”

Mohammed Al Turki; CEO of the RedSeaIFF commented: “The Red Sea IFF is entering its third edition with a film which demonstrates the progressive collaboration of creative voices shaping Saudi cinema, and kicks off ten days of incredible work from every corner of the globe – as well as our thriving industry incubator Souk, and masterclasses from celebrated entertainment leaders through our In Conversations strand. We are excited to once again welcome the world of cinema to Jeddah – and see our theme of Your Story, Your Festival come to life.”

The global film industry in attendance at the Festival’s Opening Ceremony from Saudi and GCC included stars and filmmakers such as: Yaacoub Alfarhan, Ali Alkalthami, Naif Aldhufairi, Moyaed Althaqafi, Sumaya Ridha, Sara Taibah, Hira Mahmoud, Fatima Al-Banawi, Nayla Alkhaja, Hakeem Jomah, Yasser Alsoghaf, Faysal Aldokhei, Ayman Khoja, Majed Z. Samman and many more.

From the Arab world: Yousri Nasrallah, Nabila Obeid, Lebleba, Laila Eloui, Amina Khalil, Yasmine Sabri, Dina Elsherbini, Hala Sidqi, Nadine Nejim, Kosai Khauli, Nicolas Mouawad, and many more.

International talents included: Burak Özçivit, Frieda Pinto, Joel Kinnaman, Amina Khalil, Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, Diane Kruger, Ranveer Singh, Paz Vega, Maiwenn, Zoe Saldana, Will Smith, Michelle Williams, Catherine Martin, Lucas Bravo, Alessandra Ambrosio, Ed Westwick, Amy Jackson, Rita Ora, and more.

The Yusr Awards recognize and celebrate boldness and innovation in film, awarding the biggest prizes in the region to both emerging and established voices across the formats of fiction, documentary, and animation. The Yusr Awards are presented before an international audience of industry professionals and stakeholders that brings together the very best of worldwide talents in film. The awards also shine a light on films from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world, Asia and Africa, ensuring that the Red Sea International Film Festival encompasses a reach that is across the region and beyond. The awards are presented by an international jury of world-renowned filmmakers and industry veterans in screenwriting, acting and directing; previous recipients include Catherine Deneuve, Shah Rukh Khan, Jacques Lang and Guy Ritchie.

Tickets for all film screenings at the Red Sea International Film Festival are available on the RSIFF website: