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The Red Sea International Film Festival  Presents Red Sea: New Vision And Series Strands

November 23, 2023

Selection highlighting bold new work in film and television from both

MENA and Asia regions

Families and Children Strand to include projects from Iran, China, Switzerland, Jordan, Belgium and France

The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) has now announced the Red Sea: New Vision strand, bringing to the Festival a unique selection of creative direction from Arab and world cinema. Exciting new voices from the small screen are also represented with four new international television shows to preview in Red Sea: Series.  The festival will also showcase a selection of films with Families and Children in mind, to excite the filmmakers and audiences of tomorrow. Tickets for Family screenings will be priced at 5 SAR ($1.33).

The Red Sea: New Vision strand will bring six new films to Festival screens. The World Premiere of Iraq’s Invisible Beauty, by Jurgen Buedts and Sahim Omar Kalifa is a moving portrait of Iraqi photographer Latif Al Ani, a significant documentarian, will feature alongside Garry Keane and Stephen Gerard Kelly’s Irish foreign language Oscar entry, In The Shadow Of Beirut – a cinematic odyssey that takes viewers into one of the toughest slums in the world. In Muhannad Lamin’s documentary Donga the titular filmmaker is deeply affected by his filming of the end of Colonel Gaddafi’s reign in Libya in this MENA Premiere, while in Abdelhai Laraki’s Fez Summer ’55 imagines the lead-up to Moroccan independence through the eyes of an 11-year-old Kamal. Liana & Renaud’s The Sea and Its Waves screens as a MENA Premiere with its poetic tribute to Beirut, and Thien An Pham’s existential Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell won the Camera d’Or for Best First Film at Cannes earlier this year.

Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics for the Red Sea International Film Festival, said: “We hold a special attachment to the Red Sea: New Vision section. These are our cinematic favorites—films with a different, creative, original, and, above all, unique cinematographic language. Filmmakers delve into strong themes, whether it’s the quest for a new country, the lost beauty of a country, the struggle of women for an independent and robust country, or the revolution in a country led by its young citizens for a brighter future. This rich cinematographic language contributes significantly to making Arab cinema more vibrant and uniquely compelling.”

With Red Sea: Series we turn to the smaller screen and preview four new television shows: the World Premiere of Ashfaq Carim and Gokhan Deniz’s docu-series South Africa Eats, exploring the many cuisines embraced by the Rainbow nation, Nima Javidi’s The Actor, plus Ghazaleh Golbakhsh’s Miles From Nowhere, screeningin a World Premiere, as well as  Lee Jung-Gon’s The Deal, a sensational Korean thriller about a kidnapping that goes awry.

Seeking to engage and spark the imaginations of younger audiences is an investment in the future of cinemagoers and in the Families and Children strand the Red Sea IFF will do so with five new films: the World Premiere of Damien Hauser’s inspiring Kenya-set fable After the Long Rains (Baada Ya Masika), the Arab premiereofCynthia Sharaihay’s Saleem, Mohammad Hamzei’s heartfelt drama Captain, Benoît Chieux’s tale of two sisters who turn into cats inSirocco Et Le Royaume Des Courants D’air, and with Farzad and Kianoush Dalvand’s animated Three Little Kungpoo Goats, when the titular, cloven-hoofed martial arts experts rise up against a hungry wolf.

Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the Red Sea International Film Festival, said: “Children have always been at the heart of our festival. Witnessing their excited attendance as they arrive on buses, at the red carpet, bringing their joy, their expectation, and then the discovery of the films we selected for them, brings us boundless joy. For that, we aim for this cinematic experience to be unforgettable by choosing enchanting films and international gems.

It is crucial, both for us and the children, to show how to tolerate, be open, and to foster an understanding of and acceptance of everyone’s differences. The Red Sea Film Festival is a home for both the young and old alike, through all the films selected, to create a space of integration, complicity, and openness.”

Tickets for all film screenings at the Red Sea International Film Festival are available on the RSIFF website:

Red Sea: New Vision


Dir. Jurgen Buedts and Sahim Omar Kalifa

Iraq, Belgium, France

Latif al-Ani, known as the father of Iraqi photography, began his career taking pictures for the in-house magazine at Iraq Petroleum Company in the ‘50s, recording the emergence of a booming modern Iraq. Now 86, he continued through successive regimes to make images of the country’s exquisite heritage, including many places that have since been destroyed by war. Encouraged in recent years by belated recognition from the West as a major

photographer, he travels for this emotional documentary through his tragically ravaged country, seeking out the subjects he once photographed and sharing his unique archive and his stories with the people there now. Many can hardly believe the Iraq he captured really existed.


Dir. Garry Keane and Stephen Gerard Kelly

Ireland, Lebanon

Refugees have been flowing into Sabra and Shatila, a lawless no-man’s-land on the edge of the Lebanese capital, since 1948; where 30,000 stateless people now live. Over four years, the directors of this sensitive documentary follow four families in desperate circumstances: An eight-year-old boy ransacks rubbish bins to support his family, who were forced to flee Syria; a devoted father battles his own persistent drug habit; a very different father imprisons his teenage daughter for fear of what might happen to her outside and a Romany family gathers around the bed of a child with a painful skin disease, unable to take her to a hospital. Most striking, however, is the power of these desperate people’s love.


Dir. Muhannad Lamin


At the age of 19, director Mohamed – known as Donga – plunges into the midst of the 2011 Libya uprising armed only with his camera. Having grown up under a dictatorship where the only permitted history was an ongoing story of Colonel Gaddafi’s glory, he was determined to record everything he saw: Khalifa Haftar’s battles with the regime and the struggle with Isis, but also everyday survival , even moments of humor. Starting out charged with adrenalin, Donga is inevitably changed by what he experiences, including a mortar strike where almost everyone else dies. This is an intensely personal journey where we see the world through the film-maker’s eyes, illuminated by his growing understanding of the broader history of the Arab world.


Dir. Abdelhai Laraki


In the summer of 1955 – a few months before Morocco will achieve independence – 11-year-old Kamal is living in the Medina of Fez. Together with Aïcha and her fellow students from Qaraouiyine University, he discovers and joins in the fight for freedom. It is thus Kamal’s coming-of-age story, but also a vivid, passionate account of the rebirth of a nation, with its own culture and fierce dignity. Laraki was inspired by the memories of Moroccan resistance fighters who were part of the painful but essential struggle against colonialism, describing extraordinary acts of patriotism, the fight for women’s rights and the quest for freedom. At the same time, he describes his personal search for emancipation from the weight of his own past.


Dir. Liana & Renaud

France, Lebanon

A passionate ode to Beirut – that troubled but still mesmerizing city – this story of a night spent on the docks, where brother and sister Mansour and Najwa wait anxiously for a boat to take them away to Norway, is like a film poem composed out of darkness. Local characters loom out of the night, each one with a story that reveals another aspect of this wounded culture, but merging into a narrative that is both observational and surreal, heightened by unexpected musical flourishes, pools of light that suddenly illuminate the city’s skyscrapers and people whose woes are never fully explained. In their debut drama, Liana and Renaud have reached for a new cinematic language to illuminate the city’s profound trauma.


Dir. Thien An Pham

Vietnam, Singapore, France

Winner of best first film at the Cannes Film Festival, this is a beautifully rendered portrait of a disengaged young man who is obliged to return to reality when his sister-in-law Hanh dies in a motorcycle accident. Suddenly, Thien (Le Phong Vu) becomes the default guardian of his five-year-old nephew Dao (Nguyen Thinh), who he decides to return to their village in the lush rural hinterland. After ensuring Hanh has a Christian burial, he must find Dao’s father Tam, his long-disappeared brother. The search leads him to a chance meeting with a woman he once loved, now a nun. Such meetings with the past gradually but inexorably return him more fully to the present.

Red Sea: Series


Dir. Ashfaq Carim and Gokhan Deniz

South Africa

You are what you eat – and what we eat also reflects who we are. The food scene in South Africa is vibrant and rich, the product of a country forged from the mingling of multiple ethnicities, migration and colonization. Over eight episodes, series host and serious foodie Ashfaq Carim – who is also Muslim, which informs his journey – will explore a spectrum of flavors and famous South African specialties, pairing them with original music from the regions he visits. Three pilot episodes have been shot so far. For international viewers, Carim hopes to offer an insight into his country’s complex rainbow identity. Locals, meanwhile, can take pride in their daily specials: the stews, snacks, neighborhood hangouts and breathtaking landscapes that are uniquely South African.


Dir. Nima Javidi


Gifted actors Ali and Morteza (Venice best-actor winner Navid Mohammadzadeh and Ahmad Mehranfar) have nothing to their names but a derelict theatre for which they can barely make rent. They scrape a living by staging elaborate, costumed party pranks for Teheran’s rich-kid set, hoping to get back to the stage sometime. Their fortunes take a turn, however, when they are spotted by a shadowy private detectives’ agency that uses improv actors as investigators. Using their skills at building scenes and assuming different characters, they are able to inveigle their way into the scenes of unsolved crimes. Ali and Morteza are soon joined by a talented actress and a make-up artist; they form a team of great pretenders.


Dir. Lee Jung-Gon

South Korea

Three old high-school friends meet after a long time apart and get drunk. When Min-woo – who comes from a rich Korean family – falls asleep, Jun Seong and Jea Hyo put him to bed, then answer a call from home on his cell phone. They pretend to be his kidnappers – “We have your son! Prepare a billion won!” – but the game soon becomes terribly real as it turns into plan, a ransom materializes and Min-woo realizes how he is being used. Not that he is a pushover, as his former friends will discover when he becomes their accomplice. The twists and turns as the three of them try to score the perfect deal keep the thrills coming and the stakes escalating.


Dir. Ghazaleh Golbakhsh

New Zealand

Said is a young Muslim songwriter living in Auckland, New Zealand who forms a dangerous friendship with the Security Intelligence Service agent spying on him, risking his whole community to fulfil his dreams. Drawing on the author Mohamed Hassan’s real-world knowledge as Aotearoa’s foremost reporter on surveillance, counter-terrorism and Islamophobia, this six-part series combines drama and comedy in its exploration of a Muslim diaspora hitherto barely glimpsed on the screen. Led by Arlo Green as Said, an authentic cast of Australian and Kiwi actors convey a dark but hopeful story – laced with humor and music – about the tribulations of youth, overcoming mental illness and ultimately finding a unique place in the world.

Red Sea: Families and Children


Dir. Damien Hauser

Switzerland, Kenya

Ten-year-old Aisha’s latest school assignment asks her to say what she wants to be when she grows up. She soon realizes that all her classmates have written that they are going to take over their parents’ businesses or follow them into their professions. Aisha has bigger dreams: she wants to go to Europe and become an actress. How to do it? Her plan is to find a job on a fishing boat so that she can sail all the way to Europe, but her mother thinks that fishing should be left to men. Aisha doesn’t agree – and when she meets Hassan, a drunken fisherman who promises to teach her how to fish, she seizes her opportunity.


Dir. Cynthia Sharaihay


Saleem is only nine years old when his family is forced to flee their war-torn home for a small town in a neighboring country. Bullied at his new school and suffering the after-effects of trauma, Saleem finds adapting to this strange place difficult, but his life takes a turn for the better when he comes across a treasure map. With three new friends, he sets out to follow the map’s clues, facing up to the journey’s challenges and meeting characters who give him hope and a sense of healing. An exciting adventure that also reflects with sensitivity on children’s mental health issues, this is a heartwarming film for children that also has plenty to say to the grown-ups around them.


Dir. Mohammad Hamzei


In the cancer department of the children`s hospital, two boys named Isa and Ali, who dream of becoming football players, plan to achieve their dreams before Ali`s last serious operation. It should be away from the eyes of doctors and nurses.


Dir.Benoît Chieux

Belgium, France

Two intrepid sisters, Juliette (4) and Carmen (8), discover a passage that leads to the extraordinary world of their favorite book, the Kingdom of the Air Streams. Transformed into cats and separated from each other, the girls will have to be bold and daring to find their way back to each other and, with the help of a singer called Selma, to their real world. Their greatest fear is confronting Sirocco, the master of winds and storms – but is he as terrifying as everyone thinks? Visually stunning, this animation will beguile.


Dir. Farzad and Kianoush Dalvand

Iran, China

There is a fragile ceasefire between Predators and Prey, upheld by an anonymous Ninja Warrior known as Red Shadow. The Wolf, however, has reached the end of his endurance; he is tired of trying to eat vegetarian recipes. One day, he decides to try to find a legal way around the truce that will allow him to hunt some delicious little goats without being punished. What he doesn’t know is that these little goats are students at a special school of martial arts that trains small animals to defend themselves. Wolf may have teeth, but these goats have real talent.