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The Red Sea International Film Festival Announces The 2023 Festival Favorites And Treasures Strands

November 9, 2023

The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) has now revealed the details of both this year’s Festival Favorites and Red Sea: Treasures strands, bringing together some of the best films made in the last 12 months with classic cinema, old and new – with two restorations made in partnership with Egyptian Media Production City.

The Festival Favorites program will highlight some of this year’s critical and commercial hits. Award-winning filmmakers and actors in the selection will include Anna Kendrick (Woman of the Hour), David Oyelowo (Producer of Allihopa: The Dalkurd Story), Ellen Burstyn and Ewan McGregor (Mother Couch), Serena and Venus Williams (Executive Producers of Copa 71), Jennifer Esposito (Fresh Kills), Laetitia Colombani (The Braid)), along with three amazing filmmakers from Morocco, Asmae El Moudir (Mother of All Lies), Sofia Alaoui (Animalia) and Kamal Lazraq (Hounds). 

21 films have been carefully selected by the team of Festival programmers, who have scoured the world’s leading film festivals in search of inspiring stories from animation, documentary, and feature films to deliver the best new cinema to audiences in Jeddah.  

Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the Red Sea International Film Festival, said: “This year’s selection of Festival Favorites exemplifies the Red Sea’s commitment to showcasing a diverse range of original talent that will challenge people’s expectations of filmmaking. These are powerful stories that stay with you long after the films have ended, and expertly make use of the medium of cinema to surprise, start conversations, and engage viewers. We have incredible female directors included in this line-up, both established names and new talent, and the selection overall highlights the changing landscape of cinema from the Arab world, Asia, and European countries as well as North and South America.”  

To complement the contemporary titles, the Red Sea: Treasures strand will present seven titles of unmissable gems and classics, the masterpieces that have inspired generations of directors – with many to be screened for the first time in Saudi Arabia on newly restored prints.

The selection for this year includes a partnership with Egyptian Media Production City to restore and show two landmark classics with iconic stars from the Arab world who have left their mark in music as well as in cinema, with VICTORY OF YOUTH, starring Farid Al Atrash and Asmahan, and MY WIFE’S GOBLIN, with Shadia and Salah Zulfiqar. The program will also include a new 4K version of Fatih Akin’s incredible music documentary about the changing music scene in Turkey, CROSSING THE BRIDGE: THE SOUND OF ISTANBUL and Jacques Demy’s musical comedy LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT, witha Michel Legrand score and starring Catherine Deneuve, her sister Françoise Dorléac and the MGM legend Gene Kelly.

Further highlights in the strand will feature City of God (Cidade de Deus), the seminal, epic crime film co-directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund and both LOST IN LA MANCHA (2002) and HE DREAMS OF GIANTS (2019) from directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, which chronicle Terry Gilliam’s decades-long journey to making The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programmes and Film Classics, says: “We are delighted to be presenting a selection of cinematic masterpieces from all over the world in this year’s Treasures strand, from the meta-cinema of Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s two documentaries on Terry Gilliam; to our partnership with Egyptian Media Production City on two iconic Arab titles – which follows last year’s successful restoration and screening of Watch Out for ZouZou and Love in Karnak. Once again, we have unearthed some very special titles to present which celebrate many eras and genres in cinema, and we look forward to both welcoming existing fans of the titles and creating new ones.”

Tickets for all film screenings at the Red Sea International Film Festival will go on sale on Sunday, November 12, at 12 PM on the RSIFF website:

Red Sea International Film Festival: Festival Favorites 


Dir. Kordo Doski  

Iraq, Sweden, United States of America (USA), and Canada

Documentary Allihopa: The Dalkurd Story tells the remarkable tale of the Dalkurd soccer team whose unprecedented rise up the Swedish team united millions of Kurdish people worldwide and shines a light on the displacement that has plagued them for over a century. 


Dir. Sofia Alaoui 


Sofia Alaoui, a scientist-turned-filmmaker, presents an ethereal sci-fi drama about the end of the world. Her protagonist, Itto, is a young woman from a rural background who married into a wealthy Moroccan family and must adapt to her new life with them. When a state of emergency is declared due to supernatural events, Itto is separated from her husband and family, and must find her way back to them while pregnant. 

COPA 71 

Dir. Rachel Ramsay, James Erskine 

United Kingdom

Copa 71 is a documentary that celebrates the 1971 unofficial Women’s World Cup, a groundbreaking tournament that was dismissed by FIFA but attracted crowds of over 100,000. Through archival footage and interviews with the players, the film tells the story of this forgotten event and the women who paved the way for the success of women’s football today. 


Dir. James Marsh 

United Kingdom, Hungary, and Belgium

The film tells the story of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett, who has been known to shun publicity. In a riveting performance, Irish actor Gabriel Byrne portrays two versions of the writer, embodying different aspects of his personality: one racked with guilty memories and self-recrimination, the other a happier spirit who believes love and pleasure are our salvation in a grim world. 


Dir. Jennifer Esposito

United States of America (USA)

With a career spanning more than 25 years, Jennifer Esposito is a SAG, Critics Choice, and Hollywood Foreign Press award recipient. In her directorial debut, set in the 1980s, she plays the mother of two daughters and wife of a Staten Island mob boss navigating crime, infidelity, violence, and family ties as her position decrees in this stylish drama that addresses the roles of women in organized crime.  


Dir. Selman Nacar 

Turkey, France, Romania, and Spain

Nesrin, an idealistic criminal lawyer, defends a murder suspect in court. As the verdict hearing approaches, she starts to doubt the suspect’s innocence, but is determined to follow the law. When the judge’s daughter falls ill, Nesrin must make a moral choice that will affect the lives of her mother, the judge, and the accused.   


Dir. Kim Chang-hoon 

South Korea

18-year-old Yeon-gyu tries to escape the daily hell of his hometown; he lives with his distant mother, alcoholic stepfather and is bullied at school. Short on money, his dreams of getting away seem impossible, and so in order to get work he joins a local gang, finding new friends, but unprepared for the bloodshed that follows. 


Dir. Kamal Lazraq 


Hassan and Issam, two criminals that scrape a living by doing nasty jobs for a gang in Casablanca, find themselves in a difficult situation when a man they were ordered to kidnap dies in their car. Hassan insists on giving the victim a proper burial, which leads them on a funny wild goose chase through the city’s slums in search of a resting place beyond the warring gangsters’ territories. 


Dir. Jérémie Périn 


In a distant future, where Mars is a thriving colony and Earth has become a slum, hard-bitten private detective Aline and her cyborg partner Carlos team up with rogue hacker Roberta to uncover a plot to implant robots with savage code, leading to inevitable war. This stylishly animated sci-fi engages with questions of AI and humanity, wrapped in an intricate thriller. 


Dir. Niclas Larsson 

United States of America (USA)

In this comedy-drama about a fractured family, Mother (Ellen Burstyn) plants herself on a green couch in a furniture store and refuses to leave, leaving her three estranged children to figure out why. With the help of the store managers, (Bella) Taylor Russell and Marco & Marcus (F. Murray Abraham), David and his siblings embark on a mind-bending journey to unravel life-altering family truths. 


Dir. Asmae El Moudir 


Frustrated by the lack of photos of her as a child, El Moudir starts building a model of her childhood home and neighborhood in Casablanca. The project leads her to uncover a hidden history of the Casablanca bread riots of 1981 revealing the truth and healing the wounds of the past through laughter and tears. 


Dir. Keat Aun Chong 

Malaysia, Taiwan, R.O.C and Singapore

While watching a Chinese Opera in 1969, Ah Eng and her mother witness sectarian riots which they hide from behind the stage. The riot leads to the death of 196 people, including her father and brother. Fifty years later, Ah Eng returned to the district to find traces of this traumatic history, revealing how deeply past events have shaped the present. 


Dir. Laetitia Colombani


Laetitia Columbani’s film adaptation of her bestselling novel tells the stories of three women from different continents. Smita, an Untouchable in India, Giulia, a wig maker in Italy, and Sarah, a successful lawyer in Canada; despite having never met, they are bound by their resilience and determination to overcome adversity.  


Dir. Rodrigo Moreno 

Argentina, Brazil, Luxembourg, and Chile

Morán, a clerk in a bank in Buenos Aires is as good as invisible to his colleagues. Over dinner with his colleague Román, Morán reveals that he stole exactly $650,000, which is exactly double what he would have made until his retirement. He plans to turn himself in, but not before offering Román to split the money if he agrees to hide it for the duration of his incarceration. 


Dir. Karim Kassem 


A portrait of an aging car mechanic in Lebanon, whose garage becomes a microcosm of the country’s struggles. It uncovers the financial and social collapse of Lebanon and explores the meaning of existence through the lives of the mechanic’s customers, who come to him for more than just car repairs.  


Dir. Amir Hossein Asgari 


Yousef, a passionate veterinarian, saves cattle from a wolf attack and barn fire but is badly burnt. His hatred for wolves becomes an obsession. When he meets a female environmentalist, their love challenges his beliefs. Will love conquer all? 


Dir. Timm Kröger  

Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

At a physics congress in the Swiss Alps plagued by strange events involving death and disappearances, a young physicist falls in love with a mysterious pianist who knows things about him, secrets that he never told to another. The physicist sets out to uncover the truth behind the musician, but soon realizes that the stakes are higher than he ever imagined. 


Dir. Anna Kendrick  

United States of America (USA)

Rodney Alcala was a killer in the midst of a killing spree when he brazenly took part and won a date on the popular 1970s US TV show The Dating Game. Anna Kendrick makes her directorial debut with this crime drama, based on a true story, which addresses the media objectification of women and in which she stars as one of the contestants.    


Dir. Yosep Anggi Noen 


In this action-packed martial arts adventure, Gaspar, a detective in a futuristic version of Indonesia, is given 24 hours to live. He must assemble a team of assassins to help him investigate a mass slaughter case involving the government, which leads him to discover the case’s tie with the disappearance of his childhood friend. 


Dir Kiran Rao


Two brides are accidentally swapped on a packed Indian train leading to laughter, tears and an explosion of girl power.


Dir Seong Hun Kim

South Korea

Korean action is at its kinetic best in this buddy action comedy, set in the ‘80s, about a bureaucrat who arrives in Beirut to rescue a kidnapped ambassador. He needs help – and he has little choice about where to get it.

Red Sea: Treasures Selection


Dir. Ahmed Badrakhan

Egypt, 1941

Intisar Al Shabab was a hit when it was screened, mainly because the audience was eager to watch both siblings, Farid Al Atrash and Asmahan, together in one movie. The film features a collection of songs conducted by Al Atrash and sung by the magnificent voices of Farid and Asmahan, including the notable track “Al Ward.” Intisar Al Shabab is considered as one of the most important musicals in the history of the Arab cinema, primarily due to being the only movie where the renowned Farid Al Atrash and Asmahan starred together.

This film has been restored with the support of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation.


Dir. Fatin Abdel Wahab

Egypt, 1968     

Shadia and Salah Zulfiqar made a number of unforgettable comedies in the 1950s, one of which is “Afreet Merati.” Although this movie includes only two songs, “Fares Ahlamy” and “Irma la Douce,” they remain hits to this day, due to Shadia’s magnificent vocal and acting talents. Additionally, Adel Imam starred in this movie and delivered an outstanding performance, which continues to be laugh-out-loud funny even on repeated viewing.

The film has been restored with the support of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation.


Dir. Jacques Demy

France, 1967

Jacques Demy’s vintage story of twin girls leaping at life – a tribute to the Hollywood musicals he loved in his own youth – is as refreshing and delightful as the day it was made.


Dir. Fatih Akin

Turkey and Germany, 2005

Award-winning director Fatih Akin takes us on a journey through Istanbul, the city that bridges Europe and Asia, and challenges familiar notions of east and west. He looks at the vibrant musical scene which includes traditional Turkish music plus rock and hip-hop.


Dir. Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton

United Kingdom, 2019

Director Terry Gilliam is finally able to realise his Don Quixote project but, after 30 years of anticipation, finds he is tortured by self-doubt and the burden of expectation.


Dir. Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund

Brazil, France, and Germany, 2002

Two boys are brought up in a violent neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro. Later, they adopt very different professional paths, with one of them becoming a photographer and the other becoming a drug dealer.


Dir. Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton

United Kingdom and United States (USA), 2002

The director of Brazil and Twelve Monkeys tries – and fails – to make his dream project, a modern version of the romantic classic Don Quixote.