The Red Sea International Film Festival has partnered for the second edition of the AlUla Arts Festival to bring a selection of compelling films from Saudi Arabia, the wider Arab world, and beyond for AlUla Cinema Week hosted at the specially constructed Cinema AlJadidah in the breathtaking region of AlUla.
The exceptional lineup of films was presented at the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, which welcomed over 39,410 filmgoers and 4,345 film professionals, media and students. AlUla Cinema Week is part of the Festivals mission to expand audiences, celebrate and champion filmmakers, and support stimulating the growth of film production in the Middle East.
Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics at the RedSeaIFF, said: “We are happy to show the public of Al Ula the films that won the audience award, but we are also happy to show the liveliness of Saudi cinema and Arab cinema through short and feature films in the presence of the directors. Saudi films had a great impact this year during our festival, and we are delighted to share this momentum with the public of Al Ula”.
AlUla Cinema Week will roll out the red carpet on 23 February with the screening of Abdullah Al Arak’s hit film ‘Sattar’, the Saudi feelgood comedy-drama set in the world of freestyle wrestling has enjoyed a record-breaking theatrical run at the box office. The film will follow with a Q&A with the director and cast. And a second screening for Sattar on the 27th of February.
On 24 February, audiences can enjoy a presentation of Arab short films which represent Arab cinema at its most enthralling, poetic, and entertaining, all told in a matter of minutes. The programme includes ‘In the Long Run’ directed by Youssef Assabahi (Yemen), ‘Zoo’ directed by Tariq Rimawi (Jordan), ‘Naima’s Movie’ directed by Sami Saif Sirelkhatim, and ‘On My Father’s Grave’ directed by Jawahine Zentar (Morocco), which won the Golden Yusr Award for short films at the Red Sea International Film Festival 2022. The program will follow with a Q&A.
On 25 February, a selection of five international short films from India to Singapore and Ghana to Somalia present insights into other cultures from some of the most exciting filmmakers working today. The selection includes; ‘A Boy Who Cannot See the Beauty’ directed by Saurav Yadav (India), ‘Tsu Tsue’ directed by Amartei Amar (Ghana), ‘Night Stop’ directed by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed (Somalia), ‘Turtle Soup’ by Choann (Singapore) and ‘Astel’ by Ramata Toulaye-Sy (Senegal). The program will follow with a Q&A.
‘Ajoomma’, by Singaporean director He Shuming will be presented on 26 February. The Oscar-submitted film & audience award winner at Red Sea International Film Festival 2022, inspired by soap operas, tells the story of a widow, an over-protective mother, and K-drama obsessive Mrs. Lim. When her son has to pull out of a planned trip to South Korea touring locations from her favorite soap opera, she puts aside a lifetime’s timidity to travel there alone.
On 28 February, the enchanted animated film ‘Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo’ from Marya Zarif, Andre Kad will light up the screen in AlUla. The film follows six–year-old Dounia (voiced by Rachaf Ataya) who is forced to leave her home in Aleppo, accompanied by her grandfather and grandmother and the kind of magic that has its roots in the fabulous stories her parents told her.
Queens, the uplifting feature debut from Moroccan filmmaker Yasmine Benkiran starring Nisrin Erradi, Nisrine Benchara, and Rayhan Guaran screens on 1 March and will follow with a Q&A with the producer Habib Attia. Queens is the sprawling, colorful adventure film that begins in Casablanca, where a trio of women with the police on their tail embark on long escape that takes them across the rugged red terrain and flower-filled valleys of the Atlas desert to reach the Atlantic coast.
Film goers will get the opportunity to watch Hussein Fahmy on 2 March in the beloved Egyptian classic Khali Balak Min Zouzou (Watch Out for Zouzou) directed by Hassan Al-Imam (1972). Celebrating 50 years since its release, the film has been lovingly restored by The Red Sea Film Foundation for audiences to discover or see again on the big screen.
Emerging filmmakers and creatives will get the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on 3 March about the New Wave of Saudi Cinema.
This will follow with a slate of Saudi short films from an exciting wave of filmmakers who are leading a new generation of creatives responsible for bringing an audacious vibrancy to Saudi cinema. The line-up includes; ‘VHS tape Replaced’ by Maha Al-Saati, ‘Koora’ by Ziyad Alzahari, ‘Old Phone Number’ by Ali Saeed and ‘Zabarjad’ by Hussain Almoutlaq. The program will follow with a Q&A with the filmmakers.
Throughout the week film fans will also have access to the exhibition ‘The Faces of Egyptian Cinema Icons’ which highlights the icons who have made Egyptian cinema shine throughout the world, from the great Oum Kalthoum, to Faten Hamama and up to Yousra.
AlUla Cinema Week will come to a close on 4 March with the Red-Carpet screening of ‘Raven Song’ the feature debut from Saudi director Mohamed Al Salman and actor Assem el Awad, which was nominated to represent The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the 2022 Oscars. Raven Song which tells the story of 30-year-old drifter Nasser who is convinced his father doesn’t understand him. His life comes into sharp focus when he diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the same time, he meets and becomes infatuated with a striking but enigmatic young woman and must make some rapid decisions before he undergoes risky neurosurgery. Somehow, he must find a way to reach this young woman before it’s too late. The film will follow with a Q&A session