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The Red Sea International Film Festival 2023 Announces The Winners Of The Red Sea Souk Awards

December 5, 2023

Project Market and Work-in-Progress Juries select regional filmmakers to be recipients of development grants to fund new projects

A total of 24 new film projects screened as part of the Red Sea Souk, with 12 titles by filmmakers of African and Arab origin, alongside 12 Red Sea Lodge projects by Saudi, Arab and African directors which have been developed over the last year through intensive workshops and in partnership with the Torino Film Lab. The Red Sea Souk Project Market jury awards are supported by the Red Sea Fund, and in the selection were five Saudi projects, eight African projects and eleven projects from the wider Arab region.

The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) is delighted to announce the winners of the Red Sea Souk Awards – vital funding and in-kind grants to develop and boost new talent from Saudi, Arab and African directors. Three juries deliberated to finally select nine winning feature ideas and two TV series, whose creative visions will now benefit from generous prizes awarded by the Red Sea Fund and its award partners.

An additional wing of the Project Market is the Work-in-Progress Showcase featuring six feature films by directors who are also of the African or Arab diasporas. All selected Work-In-Progress projects have competed for the Red Sea Souk Awards, supported by the Red Sea Film Fund, and of which there are two winners to be chosen by the Work-in-Progress Showcase Jury.

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea Film Foundation said: “The winners of this year’s Red Sea Souk Awards demonstrate the rich and varied new visions in filmmaking emerging both from the wider MENA region and from those who have roots here. These directors are the cinematic voices of tomorrow and we are thrilled to play a part in the development of their talent and storytelling which will undoubtedly yield successes and international recognition.”

Shivani Pandya Malhotra, Managing Director Red Sea International Film Festival said: “The Souk is the beating heart of this festival in that it is the genesis of so many projects, and is the culmination of everything the foundation does throughout the year and has been growing year on year since our inception in 2021. There were over 570 meetings which took place for the market projects, which is an impressive metric of how this marketplace creates opportunity – on top of the 26 winners who walk away with vital support for their fantastic work. With participants from 30 countries – we have a robust showing of projects which we’re very proud to support and look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength.”

Zain Zedan, Red Sea Souk Manager, said: “We are thrilled to be closing out our most successful Souk yet – with a record number of countries and exhibitors who have participated in what is a truly vibrant marketplace. In addition to the Awards and networking opportunities we facilitate, we also run a programme of talks which this year includes industry veterans Zeinab Abu Alsamh, Karim Zreik, Diego Ramírez Schrempp, Sheri Elwood, Sébastien Onomo, Woo-Sik Seo and many more regional and international prominent figures. We look forward to reconvening in 2024 and seeing the trajectory of these creators and businesses soar in the coming year.”

Additional Souk Partner Awards come from: Arab Cinema Center (ACC), Arab Radio and Television (ART), CineWaves Films, Ithra, MAD Solutions, MBC Academy/Shahid, Oticons, Shift Studios and Titrafilm.

The Red Sea International Film Festival runs from 30 November – 9 December. Look here for further details of Red Sea Souk and Red Sea Labs on the RSIFF website.

Please see below the full list of winners:

Arab Cinema Center (ACC):

2 supported places on the International Film Festival Rotterdam Producers Lab

Saudi Winner: Ghaidaa Abuazzah (BY HASNAA’S SIDE)

Arab Winner: Fatma Racha Shehadeh (THE GIRL AND MISSING BED)

MAD Solutions:

50,000 USD to a project in development, in production or in post production.



Oticons Award for a Work-in-Progress film consisting of Music Consulting services worth 5,000 USD

Winner: MEN IN THE SUN by Mahdi Fleifel


12,000 USD Shift Studios awards for a promotion package worth 12,000 USD

2 Awards

Winner: RISING UP AT NIGHT by Nelson Makengo

Winner: MY SEMBA by Hugo Salvaterra

8,000 USD Shift Studios award consisting of a full DCP package worth 8,000 USD

Winner: MEN IN THE SUN by Mahdi Fleifel


In kind award for a Work-in-Progress film worth 15,000 USD

Winner: ANIMALE by Emma Benestan

Arab Radio and Television Network (ART):

10,000 USD ART grant for one Saudi Project in development or production

Winner: THE NIGHT WHISPERER by Lina Mahmoud

50,000 USD ART Award for one Arab Project in development or production

Awarded by ART

Winner: LOVE CONQUERS ALL by Danielle Arbid

CineWaves Films:

50,000 USD CineWaves Films Distribution Award for a project in development, production or post-production

Winner: MECCA, BERLIN by Majtaba Saeed


50,000 USD Ithra award for one Saudi project in production or post-production

Winner: THE NIGHT WHISPERER by Lina Mahmoud

MBC Academy/Shahid:

75,000 USD MBC Academy /Shahid Award for a Saudi project in development

Winner: IN THE BEGINNING, IT IS THE END by Ghadeer Binabbas

75,000 USD MBC Academy /Shahid Award for a Saudi project in development or production or post-production

Winner: BY HASSNA’S SIDE by Amaal Youssif

50,000 USD MBC Academy/Shahid Award for an Arab project in development or post-production

Winners: MADNESS AND HONEY DAYS by Ahmed Yassin Al-Daradji

Serieslab Awards:

10,000 USD Red Sea Serieslab Award

Awarded by Serieslab Jury

Winner: EYE OF THE KITE by Saleh Al-Hamad

Winner: OUR SON IS PRETTIER by Hanaa Saleh Alfassi

WIP Awards:

Red Sea Souk Post-Production Jury Special Mention Award with a grant of 10.000 USD

Awarded by Red Sea WIP Jury

Winner: MY SEMBA by Hugo Salvaterra

Red Sea Souk Post-Production Award with a grant of 30,000 USD

Awarded by Red Sea WIP Jury

Winners: YUNAN by Ameer Fakher Eldin

Lodge Awards:

50,000 USD Red Sea Souk Production Award for a Red Sea Lodge project

Awarded by Project Market Jury

Winner: BY HASNAA’S SIDE by Amaal Youssif

Winner: FANTASTIC TALE by Vincho Nchogu

Winner: BLACK SNAKE by Naishe Nyamubaya


PM Awards:

Awarded by Project Market Jury

25,000 USD Red Sea Souk Jury Special Mention Award

Winner: LOVE CONQUERS ALL by Danielle Arbid

35,000 USD Red Sea Souk Development Award


100,000 USD Red Sea Souk Production Award