The Red Sea International Film Festival (RedSeaFF), the inaugural edition of which will take place 6-15 December, today announced the first round of titles of the most inspiring, diverse, and distinctive films of the year hand-picked from around the world. The films are included within the newly announced Festival Favourites section and truly celebrate the breadth of cinema, bringing stories from around the globe to Jeddah with the mission to increase audiences’ chances to see the very best films of the year.
The Festival Favourites section is an expansive round of the hits from this year’s international festival circuit, comprising films that have received both audience and critical acclaim and are in contention this awards season, as well as a select sampling of experiential and escapist films.
Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics of the RedSeaIFF said: “Our hope with the Festival Favorites section is that audiences can discover new films that will instantly become classics for them, with deeply resonant stories that they want to return to time and time again. The majority of these films will be premiering in the Arab region, and we are honoured to be able to showcase some truly incredible films from this year’s festival circuit.”
Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the RedSeaIFF, added: “We hope that after the past year, the Festival Favorites section can help celebrate the diversity of stories from across the world. From deeply personal documentaries to equally moving works of fiction, each film in this section speaks authentically to the very best cinema has to offer. We anticipate that these films will continue to succeed critically and receive universal acclaim, and we are thrilled to be able to show them to Saudi audiences.”
Greek director Christos Nikou makes his directorial debut with Apples, which he also co-wrote with Stavros Raptis. As an unpredictable, sweeping pandemic causes people to develop sudden amnesia, a man finds himself enrolled in a recovery program designed to help him build a new life. The film was chosen as the Greek entry for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.
As In Heaven is directed and adapted for the screen by Tea Lindeburg, from the 1912 novel by Marie Bregendahl, “En Dødsnat” (“A Night of Death”). On a day at the end of the 1800s, 14-year-old Lise’s life is changed forever when her mother goes into labour, and it quickly appears that something is wrong. The film had its world premiere in the Discovery section of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, with Lindeburg going on to win the Silver Seashell for Best Director at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
Iranian writer and director Firouzeh Khosrovani’s latest documentary Radiograph of a Family tells a deeply personal story, as Khosrovani depicts her parents’ love story, which takes them from the Shah era to the Islamic Revolution and the hardships during the Iran-Iraq War, up to the present day – all in their home in Tehran. The story is a product of Iran’s struggle between secularism and Islamic ideology. The film had its world premiere at the 2020 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, where it was awarded Best Feature-Length Documentary.
American director Tony Stone’s Ted K, which he also co-wrote with Gaddy Davis and John Rosenthal, tells the story of Ted Kaczynski, most well known as the Unabomber. Based on Kaczynski’s diaries and writings, Stone’s film is a kaleidoscopic true crime journey into the life of one of America’s most complex and eccentric killers, raging at the forces of both the inescapable technological society that plague Kaczynski alongside his inner demons. The film premiered at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
The Stranger is the feature directorial debut of Syrian writer and director Ameer Fakher Eldin. In a small village in the occupied Golan Heights, the life of a desperate unlicensed doctor, who is going through an existential crisis, takes another turn when he encounters a man wounded in the war in Syria. The film had its world premiere in the Venice Days section of this year’s Venice International Film Festival, with Eldin winning the festival’s Edipo Re Award.
French writer and director Lucile Hadžihalilović’s English language debut Earwig tells the story of Mia, a girl with teeth of ice, living somewhere in mid-20th century Europe. Albert is employed to look after Mia, who never leaves their apartment, until the day Albert is instructed that he must prepare the child to leave. The film premiered in the Platform section of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, with Hadžihalilović going on to win the Special Prize of the Jury at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
The Innocents is the second feature from Norwegian writer and director Eskil Vogt. The thriller follows four children who become friends during the summer holidays, who discover they have hidden powers. While exploring their newfound abilities in the nearby forests and playgrounds, their innocent play takes a dark turn and strange things begin to happen. The film was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Written and directed by acclaimed Brazilian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz, Mariner of the Mountains is his latest documentary, and his most personal to date. Accompanied by the memory of his recently deceased mother to whom he addresses an imaginary letter, Aïnouz takes us on a journey to his parent’s homeland, crossing the Mediterranean by boat and embarking on his first journey to Algeria, the country where his father, whom he never met, is from. The film played as a special screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
The Sea Ahead is the feature directorial debut from Lebanese writer and director Ely Dagher who scooped the Palme d’Or for his short Waves 98. The film tells the story of Jana, who returns to Beirut after years living abroad, bearing the burden of some unnamed traumatic experience, to find that Beirut feels both familiar and strange. For those who leave their homes, only to return, nowhere provides real solace. The film had its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Dagher was nominated for the Caméra d’Or for Best First Feature Film.
Award-winning Egyptian writer and director Mohamed Diab’s latest feature Amira, tells a fictional story grounded in remarkable fact, that more than 100 Palestinian children have been fathered by prisoners, using sperm smuggled out of jail to the men’s waiting partners. Amira has grown up believing this, but that belief is shattered when tests show her father, Nuwar, to be infertile. Amira premiered at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, competing within the Orizzonti competition.
The inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival will run in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from December 6-15, 2021.