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Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Festival Announces Production Grants Jury

  • Variety
Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Festival Announces Production Grants Jury
In its first announcement following cancellation of its inaugural edition due to coronavirus, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival has recruited a high-profile jury that will award two production grants for Arab cinema projects each worth $500,000.

The jurors who will pick winners among 12 projects taking part in the inaugural Red Sea Lodge Residency are: Egyptian auteur Yousry Nasrallah (“After the Battle”); France-based producer Nadia Turincev (“Mimosas”); and German producer Meinholf Zurhorst, who is a commissioner for the German side of European specialty broadcaster Arte.

The Red Sea Lodge program to nurture new voices in Arab cinema – which is organized in tandem with Italy’s TorinoFilmLab – has selected 12 emerging Arab filmmakers, six of whom are from Saudi Arabia, and paired each one with an experienced mentor who will shepherd the development of each project.

The two Red Sea Lodge production grant winners among these will be announced on Sept.
See full article at Variety »

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival Director Steps Down Before Event’s Debut Edition

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival Director Steps Down Before Event’s Debut Edition
Mahmoud Sabbagh, the director of Saudi Arabai’s Red Sea Film Festival, is resigning from his role after being unable to take the reins at the event’s inaugural edition after it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

No reason was given for Sabbagh’s decision to step down. The festival posted a statement on its social media channels thanking the exec for his work and noting he will now return to working in the Saudi film industry as a filmmaker. His previous credits include Barakah Meets Barakah, which debuted at the 2016 Berlinale, and 2018 drama Amra And The Second Marriage.

It’s been a rocky start for the event, which many hoped would become a leading Middle East festival after its launch followed the closure of the Dubai International Film Festival, a key event in the region.

The debut edition was due to be held March 12-21 and would have
See full article at Deadline »

Red Sea Film Festival director steps down before delayed first edition

Red Sea Film Festival director steps down before delayed first edition
Mahmoud Sabbagh had been due to host the inaugural edition in March.

Saudi filmmaker Mahmoud Sabbagh has stepped down from his role as director of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival, before the event has hosted its delayed first edition.

A statement on the event’s website and social media channels thanked Sabbagh for his efforts in launching the festival, which included setting up the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation. According to the statement, Sabbagh “will return to the Saudi film industry as a pioneering director and producer to work on his third feature film.”

The inaugural edition of
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Saudi Arabia’s Inaugural Red Sea Film Festival Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Saudi Arabia’s Inaugural Red Sea Film Festival Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns
Saudi Arabia’s nascent Red Sea International Film Festival has postponed its inaugural edition due to coronavirus concerns.

Organizers announced the “difficult” decision on Tuesday “given the current global health emergency,” they said in an email to prospective guests which noted that their “primary consideration” is “the safety and wellbeing of our guests, staff and audiences.”

“We are confident that, in due course, the festival will be rescheduled and that we will be able

to achieve all that we have planned and worked towards over the past 12-months,” they added.

The ambitious event, which had recruited Oliver Stone to preside over the jury and Spike Lee to present a special screening of “Malcolm X,” is Saudi’s first full-fledged film festival and market, with international ambitions after the country in late 2017 removed its religion-related ban on cinemas. It was scheduled to run March 12-21 in the historic district of Jeddah,
See full article at Variety »

Red Sea Film Festival Founder Talks Pushing Cultural Boundaries: "We Are Reclaiming Our Narratives"

Red Sea Film Festival Founder Talks Pushing Cultural Boundaries:
It was just four years ago that Berlin hosted the world premiere of Barakah Meets Barakah, the debut feature from Saudi director Mahmoud Sabbagh. Not only was the groundbreaking film the first from the kingdom to screen at the Berlinale, but it was also considered the country’s first-ever romantic comedy, deploying humor as a charming yet pointed tool to highlight the challenges young Saudis face in finding love.

Saudi Arabia has experienced several major cinematic firsts since then — the opening of the first movie theaters since a 35-year ban was lifted, its first ever pavilion in Cannes and the ...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter »

Red Sea Festival Chief Mahmoud Sabbagh on Attracting Movies, Execs to Saudi (Exclusive)

Red Sea Festival Chief Mahmoud Sabbagh on Attracting Movies, Execs to Saudi (Exclusive)
Saudi Arabian film director Mahmoud Sabbagh, who made a splash with groundbreaking romcom “Barakah Meets Barakah” and black comedy “Amra and the Second Marriage,” roughly a year ago became president of Saudi’s Red Sea International Film Festival, the kingdom’s first full-fledged festival and market. The ambitious event, which will run March 12-21 in Jeddah, recently announced a lineup featuring a fresh mix of international films launching in the region as well as a robust representation of Arab titles. Sabbagh spoke exclusively to Variety about the challenges of attracting movies, talents, and industry executives to its inaugural edition. Excerpts from the conversation.

It’s tough launching a film festival with ambitions to put it in on the map. And it’s no secret that there is an aversion to Saudi [due to the Jamal Khashoggi murder.] How tough was it to get movies and people to come?

Each film or director or
See full article at Variety »

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Festival to Feature ‘The Assistant,’ Local Opener ‘The Book of Sun’

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Festival to Feature ‘The Assistant,’ Local Opener ‘The Book of Sun’
Saudi Arabia’s nascent Red Sea International Film festival has unveiled its inaugural lineup featuring the Middle East premiere of Harvey Weinstein-inspired workplace abuse drama “The Assistant” amid a fresh mix of feature films and docs from Europe, the U.S., Asia, and Africa launching in the region on top of a robust representation of Arab films.

Significantly, the opener will be “The Book of Sun” by debuting Saudi directorial duo Faris and Suhaib Godus, about a teenager named Husam who, prompted by the growing phenomenon of Saudi YouTube content, embarks with a group of geeks on a mission to make a no-budget horror pic. Production of this film was supported by the fest.

Oliver Stone will preside over the competition jury.

Red Sea festival chief Mahmoud Sabbagh in a statement called “Book of Sun” “a testament to the passionate community of pioneering filmmakers who have inspired and drive Saudi cinema culture.
See full article at Variety »

Ireland, Saudi Arabia pick 'Gaza', 'The Perfect Candidate' for Oscars 2020

  • ScreenDaily
Ireland, Saudi Arabia pick 'Gaza', 'The Perfect Candidate' for Oscars 2020
Which film will follow on from ‘Roma’ in winning the prize?

Submissions for the best international feature film award at the 2020 Academy Awards have started to come in, and Screen is keeping a running list of each film below.

This is the first year the award will be given under the new name of ‘best international feature film’, after a change in April from ‘foreign-language film’.

Scroll down for latest entries

The eligibility rules remain the same: an international feature film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the Us with a predominantly non-English dialogue track and can include animated and documentary features.
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Saudi's Red Sea International Film Festival unveils debut lab selection

  • ScreenDaily
Saudi's Red Sea International Film Festival unveils debut lab selection
New initiative is organised in collaboration with the TorinoFilmLab.

The Red Sea International Film Festival, which is due to take place for the first time in the Saudi port city of Jeddah from March 12-21, 2020, has unveiled the 12 projects that will participate in its inaugural Red Sea Lodge feature film development lab.

The selection comprises six Saudi projects as well as six productions from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon, by both emerging and established filmmakers.

They include new films by Lebanese director Hadi Ghandour, Palestinian producer and filmmaker Amira Diab and Jordanian director Amjad Al-Rasheed

Ghandour will attend with
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Festival Announces Projects in Development

The upcoming Red Sea International Film Festival, which is Saudi Arabia’s first major film event, has announced a first batch of Arabic projects that will benefit from a total of up to $3 million in support as well as mentoring through its Sundance-like development program, the Red Sea Lodge.

The program has been set up to nurture new voices in Arab cinema at the fest, the inaugural edition of which will run March 12-21, 2020, in the historic district of Jeddah, which is a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Red Sea Lodge is operated in tandem with Italy’s TorinoFilmLab and includes three workshops to be held in Jeddah, the first of which will take place next month. The program will support six projects from Saudi Arabia and six from the Arab world at large, excluding Qatar, with which Saudi Arabia is locked in a diplomatic standoff.

The six Saudi projects touch on potentially edgy topics,
See full article at Variety »

French Industry Veteran Julie Bergeron to Head Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival Market (Exclusive)

The Red Sea International Film Festival, which is Saudi Arabia’s first international film fest, is ramping up operations with the appointment of French industry veteran Julie Bergeron as head of its nascent market.

Ahead of its first edition, to be held March 12–21, 2020, in Jeddah, they’ve also announced funds providing up to $3 million in support for emerging Arab filmmakers and cash prizes totaling $350,000.

Bergeron has been head of industry programs at the Cannes Marché du Film as well as project manager of its Ventana Sur Latin American offshoot, and she has also worked for the now-defunct Dubai film market, among other roles.

Bergeron joins a high-caliber team that includes former Sundance fest documentary programmer Hussain Currimbhoy, who is the Red Sea fest’s artistic director; Dubai’s former top exec Shivani Pandya Malhotra, who is managing director; Antoine Khalife, also a Dubai fest veteran who is director of the
See full article at Variety »

Red Sea International Film Festival announces $3m worth of prizes

Red Sea International Film Festival announces $3m worth of prizes
New ‘Yusr’ awards are named after a type of black coral found in the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia’s new Red Sea International Film Festival, which will launch its inaugural edition in Jeddah on March 12-21, 2020, will mete out nearly $3m worth of cash prizes and investments, making it one of the most generous film festivals in the world.

The new event has revealed it will ward a total of $350,000 in cash prizes to winners of its international competition running across six categories.

The top prize, the Golden Yusr Trophy for best feature, will carry a $100,000 cash prize while the
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Fest Sets Up To $3M In Cash Prizes, Mentoring & Production Funds

Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival, set to be held March 12–21 next year in Jeddah, has announced cash prizes totaling $350K and up to $3M in support for emerging Arab talent. Filmmaker Mahmoud Sabbagh (Barakah Meets Barakah) is Festival Director and CEO with former Sundance documentary programmer Hussain Currimbhoy as Artistic Director, and Shivani Pandya Malhotra, previously of the Dubai International Film Fest, as Managing Director.

At the first Red Sea event, there will be a purse of $250K for films in competition, organizers said. The Golden Yusr Trophy for Best Feature carries a $100K cash prize and the Silver Yusr Trophy for Best Director will be presented with $50K. A Silver Yusr Trophy will also be awarded for Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Cinematic Contribution. An Audience Award will see $50K go to the winner.

An additional Golden Yusr Trophy awarded for Best
See full article at Deadline »

Saudi Arabia’s new Red Sea International Film Festival sets dates, unveils team

The inaugural event will run March 12-21, 2020 in Jeddah.

The inaugural edition of Saudi Arabia’s new Red Sea International Film Festival in the port city of Jeddah will take place from March 12 to 21, 2020. Former Sundance Film Festival documentary programmer Hussain Currimbhoy has been named artistic director and Shivani Pandya Malhotra is managing director.

Pandya Malhotra managed the now defunct Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) for 15 years.

They will work with filmmaker Mahmoud Sabbagh (Barakah Meets Barakah), who was appointed as festival director and CEO of the event in March.

Former Diff staffer Antoine Khalife has joined the team as director of the Arab programme,
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Saudi Film Fest Reveals Dates & Team; TIFF Awards For Participant & Emerging Female Exec; Jerry Springer To Give Edinburgh Lecture — Global Briefs

Saudi Arabia’s first film festival, the Red Sea International Film Festival, is set to take place in the city of Jeddah between 12 – 21 March, 2020. With a focus on the ‘global south’, the festival’s program will also showcase Arab and international cinema across several sections. Festival director and CEO is Mahmoud Sabbagh. Hussain Currimbhoy, who previously served as a documentary programmer at Sundance joins the festival as artistic director, and former Dubai fest managing director Shivani Pandya Malhotra joins as managing director. Industry veteran Antoine Khalife joins as director of the Arab programme, Samaher Mously as director of marketing and communications and Ibrahim Modir as head of operations. The government-backed event has also launched The Red Sea Lodge: The New Arab Wave, a script and feature lab in collaboration with the TorinoFilmLab which will open for submissions on 1 July, 2019. It will give two $500,000 awards to the best projects from the lab.
See full article at Deadline »

First Saudi Film Fest Hires Former Sundance Programmer, Sets Dates

The Red Sea International Film Festival, which is Saudi Arabia’s first international film fest, has officially announced its team and set March 12-21, 2020, as the dates of its first edition. The event is to be held in the historic district of Jeddah, which is a Unesco World Heritage site.

As anticipated by Variety, former Dubai Film Festival exec Shivani Pandya has been named general manager of the ambitious event. Hussain Currimbhoy, who has previously served as a documentary programmer at the Sundance Film Festival, is joining as artistic director

Somewhat like Sundance, the Red Sea fest is positioning itself as a year-round film lab/incubator, which it is calling the Red Sea Lodge, to be operated in a partnership with Italy’s Torino Film Lab.

The Red Sea Lodge will select 12 Arabic projects, of which at least six will be directed by Saudi filmmakers. It will provide two of
See full article at Variety »

First Art House Cinema Opens in Saudi Arabia

First Art House Cinema Opens in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has welcomed its first art house cinema.

The open-air Elhoush Cinema – which can seat 75 people – opened to a packed house on Tuesday night in the coastal city of Jeddah with the screening of Stanley Kubrick's groundbreaking epic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The initiative is the brainchild of Saudi director Mahmoud Sabbagh, the filmmaker behind the Berlinale-bowing comedy Barakah Meets Barakah and last year's Amra and the Second Marriage. Sabbagh is also the director and CEO of the recently-announced Red Sea Film Festival, which is set to have its inaugural edition in Jeddah in ...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter »

Movie Theater Chains Forging Ahead With Saudi Arabia Expansion

Despite ongoing outcry over the assassination of a journalist and rapidly dissolving ties to Hollywood, at least three theater chains are moving forward with plans to put movie screens in Saudi Arabia.

National Association of Theater Owners President John Fithian said he’s recently spoken with numerous members of his organization about sorting out licensing issues with the Saudi government, and continuing with plans to put cineplexes in the Middle Eastern kingdom.

“I’ve spoken to three members this week about their scheduled openings,”said Fithian, addressing journalists at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

While Fithian called the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi “a tragic, awful human rights violation,” he sees the entry of global cinematic voices into Saudi culture as a positive.

“I don’t think it’s our business to make foreign policy as a trade association. It’s our business to represent a trade industry,
See full article at Variety »

Saudi Arabia Announces New Film Initiatives, Including Its First Film Festival

Saudi Arabia’s recently established culture ministry has announced a slew of arts initiatives, including plans for the kingdom’s first film festival, a film school and a national film archive. The plans are designed to foster a local film industry.

During a ceremony Wednesday evening in the capital of Riyadh, Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan, who was appointed Saudi Arabia’s first culture minister last year, unveiled a document called “Our Culture, Our Identity” outlining initiatives to kickstart the local arts sector. The effort is part of social and economic reforms championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under the Vision 2030 banner.

Saudi Arabia’s first film fest has been named the Red Sea International Film Festival and will be based in the historic district of Jeddah, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. The festival’s president is young Saudi director Mahmoud Sabbagh, known for groundbreaking comedies
See full article at Variety »

Berlin Film Fest Programmers; John Carpenter Cannes Award; Saudi Arabia Festival, David Di Donatello Prizes — Global Briefs

Berlin Film Fest Programmers; John Carpenter Cannes Award; Saudi Arabia Festival, David Di Donatello Prizes  — Global Briefs
The Berlin Film Festival‘s new leadership duo of Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek have revealed some of their new programming team. As anticipated there is a strong Locarno (Chatrian’s former festival) flavour. Chatrian has appointed a seven-member selection committee. Locarno’s former head of programming, Marc Peranson, will serve as head of programming and chair of the selection committee, which will also include three former Locarno selectors in the shape of Lorenzo Esposito, Sergio Fant, and Aurelie Godet. Also joining the committee will be programmer Verena von Stackelberg and author and curator Barbara Wurm. The new chief for the festival’s Panorama section will be Michael Stutz, a former Panorama curator. He takes over from Paz Lázaro, who will also be joining the selection committee.

Artistic director Chatrian and executive director Rissenbeek officially take office from outgoing boss Dieter Kosslick on June 1, 2019. They said, “We have different tasks,
See full article at Deadline »
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