comprehensive industry program

In collaboration with the TorinoFilmLab, the Lodge hand-picked twelve emerging filmmakers, pairing each with an experienced mentor to support and enhance their work throughout the creative process. Designed for projects at any stage of development, the comprehensive program is for directors and producers, with scriptwriters if on board, to hone and further all aspects of their vision. Every stage of filmmaking will be explored, from script consultations to work with experts in the fields of directing, cinematography and sound, through to post-production as well as a commercial focus on financing, sales, and audience engagement. Structured around diverse, stimulating exchanges with colleagues and mentors, the program is designed to enrich projects through multiple approaches and perspectives.

The training and development process will culminate during the Red Sea International Film Festival, with all participants publicly presenting to an audience of international producers, sales agents, and other film industry professionals. Further insight will be granted through one-to-one meetings with decision-makers, while significant visibility will be gained thanks to the Red Sea Lodge Catalogue and network. All final projects will vie for a $500,000 production prize, with the two winning projects enjoying their world premiere at the Red Sea International Film Festival 2021.


An international committee chose the winning teams out of 120 submissions, drawn from 16 countries. Female directors helm 5 out of the 12 successful projects, and 5 of the projects have female producers attached. The selection includes six Saudi teams alongside projects from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon, demonstrating a commitment to furthering new work from the Arab world.

The committee comprised of industry veterans, including: Mahmoud Sabbagh (Festival Director, Red Sea International Film Festival), Julie Bergeron (Head of the Red Sea Souk), Antoine Khalife (Director of the Arab Program, Red Sea International Film Festival), Jane Williams (Head of Industry, TorinoFilmLab), and Savina Neirotti (Executive Director, TorinoFilmLab). They were supported by a team of readers, including Fahad Alestaa (Saudi Scriptwriter and Film Critic), and leading media figure Layaly Badr (Arab Radio & TV Network). Saudi producer Jumana Zahid leads the Festival’s development program, as Manager of the Red Sea Lodge. Through unique storytelling styles, the Saudi projects deal with significant socio-political and economic underpinnings, including the discovery of oil and the siege of the Holy Mosque in 1979. The projects also explore the position of women and modern-day challenges to mental health, such as loneliness and isolation.


01 Basma

Directed and Written by

Fatima Albanawi

Produced by

Abdulrahman Khawj

A daughter moves in to save her father from his delusions not knowing that she’s the one who needs saving.

02 Practicing Polygamy

Directed and written by

Malak Qouta

Produced by

Bentley Brown

It is said: “Behind every great man is a woman.” But what happens if there are several women?

03 Four Acts of Disruption

Directed and written by

Hussam Alhulwah

Produced by

Mohammed Alhamoud

In his constant struggle to survive, Ayed gets caught up in the search for oil forcing him to leave his Bedouin family behind.

04 When the Star Goes Down

Directed and written by

Mohammed Salman

Produced by

Mousa Althonian

In return for her tears, a Saudi woman goes back in time and space with an angel to change her fate.

05 Sharshaf

Directed by

Hend Alfahhad

Written by

Hana Alomair

Produced by

Talal Ayeel

As Haila's eyes are open to cinema and the world around her, after her marriage, the society closes down

06 Hejj to Disney

Directed by

Maha Al-saati

Written by

Aziz Twaijri

Produced by

Chelsie Dias

To win back her lover, a hopelessly romantic Saudi woman flies from Makkah to Florida, only to discover he is not her prince.

01 Scheherazade Goes Silent

Directed and written by

Amira Diab

Produced by

Raya Aburub

On the 1000 night Shams is violated. Her dream of playing Sheherazad becomes a nightmare she must wake up from before it breaks her

02 Inchalla A boy

Directed and written by

Amjad Alrasheed

Produced by

Aseel Abu Ayyash & Rula Nasser

Grieving the sudden death of her husband, Nawal must confront the realities of inheritance laws which rule that, without a son, she stands to lose the home she bought for herself and her daughter.

03 The Arabic Interpreter

Directed and written by

Ali Kareem

Produced by

Khalid Abu Sharif

Hassan feels that his paradise in Berlin is threatened when a terrorist from his past reappears.

04 The Journey of Bullets and Bread

Directed and written by

Mohammad Hammad

Produced by

Mohammed Hefzi & Kholoud Saad

Which is more harmful? Bandits cutting us off road to steal our money or those who live among us cutting off the road our humanity

05 The Basement Notes

Directed and written by

Hadi Ghandour

Produced by

Habib Attia & Molka Mheni

A talented musician’s selfishness endangers everyone he holds dear in a town where music is banned

06 I am Arzé

Directed by

Mira Shaib

Written by

Louay Khraish

Produced by

Zeina Badran

To find her stolen scooter, a woman must outsmart Beirut’s religious diversity.


The Red Sea Lodge Production Grant for a Saudi Project was awarded to Sharshaf by Hind Alfahhad, written by Hana Alomair and produced by Talal Ayel. The jury said they were enamoured by the “Touching and strong female character, and the bonds in a relationship that can bring us together and tear us apart.” They were also intrigued that it was set in “A period of Saudi Arabia’s history the world knows so little about, unveiled to us by Hind Alfahhad." 

Hind Alfahhad’s Sharshaf is set in 1978. Haila, the daughter of a conservative Imam, marries Mosa'ed, the son of a rich and well-known fabric stores owner. The young couple spend their honeymoon in Cairo. Sharshaf is a romantic drama that follows Haila as she gets to know what she wants through the magic of cinema and how this discovery is challenged later as extremism invades the society.

The Red Sea Lodge Award for an Arab Project was awarded to Bullets & Bread by Mohammad Hammad, produced by Kholoud Saad and Mohamed Hefzy. Mohammed Hammad’s Bullets & Bread is based on the story of the writer Tamer Abdrab Elnaby. About paths were not meant to cross and a true friendship that grows out of it.

The jury enjoyed the dynamic at the film’s heart which they described as “Soldier and Gypsy; Laurel and Hardy; Friendship and Adversity. We can’t wait to be part of this road trip, this cinematic voyage.” 

The Jury also gave a special mention to the Saudi Project Four Acts of Disruption directed by Hussam AlHulwah and produced by Mohammad Alhamoud, which will be awarded $25,000 by the Red Sea Lodge for further development. The story is set in the 1930s while the newly formed Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is adjusting to the arrival of American oil prospectors. The jury gave special recognition to the project and stated “The film has huge potential and we hope that Hussam AlHulwah and Mohammad Alhamoud can continue to develop the project and bring it to fruition.”