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Saudi Film Festival starts with celebration of regional talent

By Marwa Mahmoud

  On Tuesday sixth Saudi Film Festival will go live with a 6-day virtual celebration of regionally produced movies.

The event aims to help young filmmakers and encourage film culture in the Kingdom.

This year’s annual flick fest will see films screened via YouTube, reaching a wider audience, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Regarding the opening ceremony at 6 p.m., the first day will include selected nominated films, a symposium on the future of Saudi filmmaking at 8 p.m. and a second group of screenings.

The first set of movies will feature six themes, including “And When Do I Sleep?” ‘Husam Al-Sayed, ‘Coexistence’ by Haya Al-Suhail, ‘Remember Me’ by Mohammed Hammad, and ‘The Village’ by Mohammed Al-Hamad.

Later in the same day there will be five screenings, including “Breath” by Razan Al-Sagheer and “The Red Circle” by Abdul Aziz Al-Sarhan.

Nominations fall under the categories of best feature film, documentary, student movie, and unexecuted scenario.

The winner of the best film award will receive a prize of SR40, 000 ($10,665), with the runner-up getting SR20, 000 and SR10, 000 going to the producer of the audience’s favorite movie.

Similar rewards will be handed out for best documentaries and student films, while first place in the best long scenario section will bag SR30, 000 and second spot SR20, 000, with the best short scenario winner receiving SR15, 000 and the runner-up SR10, 000.

Applications for the festival closed on Aug. 8 with 384 submissions (105 films and 279 scripts) .

Festival organizers have drafted in international filmmakers and directors to help make up this year’s panel of 12 judges who will announce the winners.

In addition to the shortlisted films and awards, several workshops are taking place with a focus on film soundtrack, writing, and directing.

Saudi actor, YouTuber, and critic, Abdul Majeed Al-Kinani, will introduce nominated films, conduct interviews, and host discussions with filmmakers during symposiums.

The festival is being run by the Culture and Arts Association in Dammam in partnership with the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran and is supported by the Ministry of Culture’s Film Commission.

Although the festival is online this year, Ithra visitors can still watch the shortlisted films at the center’s cinema for free.