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The Red Sea International Film Festival Completes Roster of Festival Favourites

December 6, 2021

The Red Sea International Film Festival (RedSeaIFF), the inaugural edition of which will take place 6-15 December, today announced the nine films completing its Festival Favourites section, in addition to the previously announced ten films in this section.


Festival Favourites celebrates the very best of international cinema, comprising of diverse and disruptive films that have received universal critical and audience acclaim on the festival circuit this year. These films compliment the RedSeaIFF’s mission of expanding the presence of international films in Saudi Arabia, and specifically the goal of increasing the chances that local audiences get to see the very best films of the year.


Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the RedSeaIFF, said: “The films that complete the Festival Favourites section are some of the very best films from the past year and represent some of the most dynamic and ground-breaking elements of filmmaking, whilst also being truly beloved films by critics and audiences alike. We anticipate that these films will open a new world of cinema to Jeddah audiences.”


Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs and Film Classics of the RedSeaIFF said: “The Festival Favourites section celebrates the very best of Arab directors from this year’s festival circuit who have created unique stories across many spectrums from magical narratives using symbolism, themes of absurdity, love and desire, those that deal with social issues and also incorporate music as a coping mechanism to survive the traumas of war. We look forward to sharing these films with Jeddah audiences.”


A Chiara is the third feature from award-winning Italian-American writer and director Jonas Carpignano. Calabrian town Gioia Taura is synonymous with the notoriously violent ‘Ndrangheta mafia organisation, but it has never occurred to 16-year-old Chiara to wonder about the source of her family’s wealth. A reckoning comes when she hears a car explode, then wakes to find her father has vanished and the papers are calling him a wanted criminal. Now she must make decisions about the future she wants for herself. The film had its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, in the Directors’ Fortnight section, where it won the Europa Labels prize for Best European Film.


Co-directed by Argentine directors Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, Official Competition stars Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz and Oscar Martínez in this hilarious and cynical comedy about the business of film and the people who pursue it. At his 80th birthday party, a brash billionaire decides he must secure his legacy, and buys the rights to a hit literary novel. He hires an eccentric award-winning director, played by Cruz, and sits back as she casts a vain movie star, played by Banderas, and a supercilious theatre actor, played by Martinez – what could possibly go wrong? The film had its world premiere at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.


The Gravedigger’s Wife is the feature directorial debut of Finnish-Somali director and writer Khadar Ayderus Ahmed. Guled is distraught when told that his wife Nasra will die without an operation costing the unimaginable sum of 5,000 dollars. In desperation, he returns to his estranged mother’s village to beg for help. The deceptively simple story encompasses such topics as the health crisis in Africa, the clash of generations and the impact of globalisation, but its central focus remains the power of love. The film premiered in International Critics’ Week during this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and has been selected as the first ever Somali entry for Best International Feature Film at the upcoming 94th Academy Awards.


Romanian director Radu Muntean’s latest film, Întregalde, had its world premiere during the Directors’ Fortnight programme at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The thriller tells the story of a group of humanitarian workers traveling through a remote area in Transylvania. When they stumble upon a disoriented local and try to help him, things began to go awry. Muntean uses horror tropes to tell a tale of dementia, lost industries, and what really constitutes compassion.


Vortex is the latest feature from Paris-based Argentine director Gaspar Noé. Life is a short party that will soon be forgotten, as the film traces the last days of an elderly couple, played by legendary director Dario Argento and Francoise LeBrun, who are stricken by dementia. Using a split screen, Noe shows them padding between rooms, dimly connected as they drift through the day – until tragedy strikes. The film had its premiere in the Cannes Premiere section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.


Two-time Academy Award-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s latest feature A Hero tells the story of divorced father Rahim, who has spent years in prison for failing to pay a debt. When he happens upon a lost handbag containing some gold coins, but he returns the bag to its rightful owner for selfish reasons, the likeable but hapless Rahim becomes an overnight media hero, hopelessly entangled in his own lies. The film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix, and has been selected as the Iranian entry for Best International Feature at the upcoming 94th Academy Awards.


Feathers is the feature directorial debut of Egyptian writer and director Omar Al Zohairy. The film is at once a dark comedy, a social-realist drama and a fantasy, telling the story of a magic trick that goes wrong at a 4-year-old’s birthday party, when the magician turns the family’s tyrannical patriarch into a chicken. Feathers fly as the child’s mother moves heaven and earth to get her husband back while stepping up to take care of things, he has left undone. Her biggest conundrum, however, is how to treat that pesky chicken. The film premiered at this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week, with Al Zohairy winning the Critics’ Week Grand Prize.


Tunisian writer and director Leyla Bouzid’s second feature A Tale of Love and Desire (French: Une Histoire D’amour et de Désir) follows Ahmed, who is French of Algerian origins and grew up in the Parisian suburbs. On a bench at university, he meets Farah, a young Tunisian full of energy recently arrived from Tunis. While discovering a body of Arabic literature he never knew existed, Ahmed falls in love with Farah, and although consumed by desire, he tries to resist it. The film had its premiere as the closing title of Cannes Critics’ Week this year.


Broken Keys is the feature directorial debut of award-winning writer and director Jimmy Keyrouz. In a Middle Eastern town seized by the Islamic state in 2014, where modern ways of living and music have been banned, Tarek, a young musician, struggles to fix his piano, after it was destroyed by terrorists. Tarek plans to pay a smuggler to get him to Europe, but he can only fund his escape if he sells the piano, the only valuable thing he has left. The film was selected as the Lebanese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.


The inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival will run in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from December 6-15, 2021.