8th Saudi Film Festival Celebrates Gulf Filmmakers in Ithra

DHAHRAN — Some of the biggest names in Gulf cinema are heading to the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, from June 2-9 for the 8th edition of the Saudi Film Festival.

This year’s theme, “Poetic Cinema”, pays tribute to Khalil Al-Rawaf, Hollywood’s first Arab star, and director Khalid Al-Siddiq, a pioneer of Kuwaiti cinema.

Organized by the Cinema Association, in partnership with Ithra with the support of the Saudi Film Commission, the eight-day event brings together filmmakers and professionals, including screenwriters, actors, producers, programmers and investors, as well as moviegoers with a series of programs. aimed at showcasing, promoting and valuing the region’s film industry.

With an expanded footprint that sees first-time entries from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to submissions from Saudi Arabia, the festival will showcase 80 films, 36 of which are taking part in the competition. The opening film is Old Phone Number by Ali Saeed, a short film co-produced by Ithra recently presented at the Short Film Corner of the Marché du Festival de Cannes alongside the film Swing by Raneem Almohandis.

In addition to the Golden Palm competition, films will also be screened in two other categories – Saudi and Gulf Films. As with the two previous editions, the festival will follow a hybrid format, with both physical and virtual programs. The winners of the festival’s Script Lab competition will be announced at the opening ceremony, which is expected to bring together 1,000 guests including actors, directors, filmmakers and media.

The Saudi Film Festival is one of the leading film events in the Kingdom and the region focused on nurturing and developing talent and content. It is a hub for filmmakers to screen their films and develop their scripts and projects through workshops and seminars, while creating a platform for them to connect and network with their peers, industry professionals and other stakeholders.

Local, Arab and international experts, including writer James Savoca, producer Habib Attia, scholar and filmmaker Hossam Elouan and entertainment lawyer Matti Rockenbauch, will present masterclasses, seminars and workshops on a range of topics such as writing, directing, cinematography, music, production, financing and marketing. The festival’s production market will also host major local and international film producers, and filmmakers will be able to pitch their ideas in person and online.

Since its inception in the first edition, the Saudi Film Festival has printed and distributed more than 50 books on cinema. This year is enriched with 14 titles, where cinema and literature lovers will have the opportunity to meet their authors during signing sessions. Aspiring filmmakers can gain hands-on experience making animated films during a 30-minute stop motion workshop. The event will also include an exhibition of 50 vintage cameras and other cinema equipment used between 1910 and 1980.

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About Herbert L. Leonard

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