Red Sea Film Festival restores two rare films by late Saudi photographer Safouh Naamani.

Restored version of “The Pilgrimage to Mecca” (1963), and "Glimpses of Jeddah”; a film composed of archival footage starting from 1954, will both premiere at the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival, March 12-21, 2020.

The Red Sea International Film Festival will honor Saudi photographer and cinematographer Safouh Naamani (1926-2016), one of the pioneers of color photography in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The festival will publicly present for the first time a rare documentary made by Naamani in 1963 on the journey to Hajj, in addition to a movie compiling never before seen film footage of the city of Jeddah, taken with Naamani's personal camera between 1954 and 1968.

“The Pilgrimage to Mecca” is a 35-minute color documentary film, developed at the William Palmer laboratory in San Francisco, about the pilgrimage to Mecca, filmed during the 1963 Hajj season.

Naamani used his extensive knowledge of the holy city of Mecca to deliver an authentic perspective. The documentary captures Mecca's inspiring landscapes and religious rituals while presenting the journey of pilgrims to Mecca. Previously, the film has screened in private or limited shows, and so will now be presented publicly for the first time.

The festival also presents for the first time a cinematic panorama of the city of Jeddah, captured by Naamani between 1954 to 1968 on his 16mm camera. The rare collection of footage documents the history of urban transformations that the city went through during the fifties and sixties.

The Red Sea International Film Foundation was able to develop and restore five reels of raw film belonging to Naamani at a film restoration lab in Munich, Germany. The restored footage has been edited into a short 30-minute film, which will debut at the 2020 festival.

Scenes from the film "Glimpses of Jeddah" range from the celebrations of King Saud's visit to Jeddah; as well as footage of commercial life in the port of Jeddah. Naamani was also able to capture rare shots of the coastline along the ancient port of Punt. As well as Al-Bay'a square, the Jeddah Palace Hotel, and the Bakashab building. The film also contains rare footage of the creation of Gold Street in 1964.

Naamani is one of the pioneers of photography and filmmaking in Jeddah, KSA. He started selling cameras and photography equipment in 1952 at his family-run "Al Naamani Stores" on King Abdulaziz road, before establishing "Studio Safouh" located in Abdullah Alfaisal building for portrait photography and photographic film development.

Restoring the work of Safouh Naamani and presenting it to a Saudi audience is a key component of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation, which is tasked with reviving, preserving and highlighting the heritage of Saudi cinema for modern audiences.


Red Sea International Film Festival 2020 Announces Khairy Beshara as its Retrospective

Khairy Beshara on the set of “The Collar and the Bone”, with actress Sherihan and cinematographer Tarek El-Telmissany (From Khairy Beshara’s personal collection).

Red Sea Film Festival Foundation restores nine key works of Egyptian neorealist director Khairy Beshara.

The remastered Beshara films will premiere as part of a full retrospective of his work at the inaugural Red Sea Film Festival taking place March 12-21, 2020.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA. December 19, 2019. A retrospective at the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival is to honor the pioneering Egyptian film director, Khairy Beshara. The filmmaker is one of the key proponents of Neo-Realism in Egypt and the Arab World in the 1980s, and the originator of the 1990s youthful cinema and folk fantasy films.

Beshara will attend public screenings of his films in Historic Jeddah, alongside many Egyptian film stars and artists involved in his work.

The Red Sea Film Festival Foundation has remastered and restored nine of Beshara's films including, Floater Number 70 (1982), The Collar and the Bracelet (1986), Sweet Day, Bitter Day (1988), Crab (1990), Ice Cream In Gleam (1992), Strawberry War (1993), and Traffic Light (1995). Part of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation’s key tasks is conserving the cinematic legacy of Arab and international cinema.

"Khairy Beshara is considered one of the main pillars of Egyptian cinema. His work has inspired countless directors of the new generation," says Festival Director Mahmoud Sabbagh. "Beshara's films portray deep human meanings and adopt bold and original techniques. With this celebration, we aim to express our gratitude towards Khairy Beshara for his incredible body of work, and to honour Egyptian cinema and its pioneering work."

In addition to the remastering program, the festival will publish a biography about Khairy Beshara, including unseen archival photographs. The book is edited by film critic Mohammed Sayyed Abdel Raheem.

In 1967, Beshara graduated from Cairo Higher Institute of Cinema, where he studied under the guidance of highly-esteemed directors such as Salah Abu Seif, Youssef Chahine, and Tewfik Saleh. He made his debut film The Tanks' Hunter in 1974, and directed more than ten distinctive documentaries and short films during the 1970s, garnering him the title "Star of Documentary Cinema."

In the 1980s, Beshara directed Floater Number 70 (1982), which is considered the cornerstone of the "Neo-Realist" movement in Egypt. He worked on films alongside many well-known writers such as Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi for The Collar and the Bracelet (1986) and Fayiz Ghaly for Sweet Day, Bitter Day (1988), and collaborated with film stars such as Ahmed Zaki, Sherihan, and Faten Hamama.

In the 1990s, Khairy Beshara instigated folk fantasy films, including Crab (1990), into Arab cinema.

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival will take place March 12 -21, 2020. The Beshara retrospective will present many of his widely-acclaimed works for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"We shall present the local audience with the opportunity to watch films that have long been part of its collective memory," says Festival Director Sabbagh. He added “now shown in updated and remastered versions on fully-equipped cinema screens, enabling the public to gain a fully cinematic experience."