The Red Sea International Film Festival has set the lineup for its inaugural edition which runs from December 6-15 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The roster includes 138 titles from 67 countries and will open with MGM’s Joe Wright-directed musical romance Cyrano. The film previously played Telluride and Rome among others and releases domestically on December 31. Among highlights are also Netflix’s Venice Film Festival drama The Lost Daughter. Closing the Red Sea Fest is the world premiere of Egyptian director Amr Salama’s Bara El Manhag.
Sixteen films will run in the competition which is focused on films from Asia, Africa and the Arab world (see full list below). They will vie for the Golden Yusr Award as well as in individual directing, acting and writing categories. Among the titles screening are Hany Abu-Assad’s Huda’s Salon, Georgian Oscar submission Brighton 4th and Panah Panahi’s Hit The Road.
Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the fest, says, “Telling stories from fresh perspectives, the Red Sea Competition is both a celebration of the continued success of established filmmakers and exciting new work coming from emerging talent. The selection of films speaks to the continued strength of filmmaking, as well as pointing to where the future of the industry is headed.”
Alongside the Red Sea Competition, Red Carpet Galas and Special Presentations, the festival will host a range of cinema in the following sections: Festival Favourites, New Saudi/New Cinema, Red Sea Treasures, Red Sea Arab and International Spectacular, Red Sea Next Generation, Red Sea Immersive and Red Sea Episodic.
The Festival will be celebrating women and will honor Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour and Egyptian actress Laila Eloui. Veteran Egyptian actress and singer Yousra will also deliver a masterclass while Catherine Deneuve is due to join the festival celebrations.
Discussions providing insight into their careers will be held by Haifaa Al-Mansour, Tunisian actress Hend Sabry and Franco-Argentinian director Gaspar Noé. The festival will further honor former French Culture Minister Jack Lang who is President of Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe.
Among other films in the fest are Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter and Nabil Ayouch’s Casablanca Beats which premiered in Cannes.
The International Spectacular double gala presentation begins with Academy-Award winner Giuseppe Tornatore’s latest, Ennio, and Ana Lily Amirpour’s fantasy thriller Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon.
The Red Sea Souk, the festival’s industry market, will offer a program of curated events to foster co-production, international distribution, and new business opportunities. It will run from December 8-11, alongside the festival and features a masterclass with Chilean editor Andrea Chignoli and a panel with Palestinian filmmakers Hany Abu-Assad, Annemarie Jacir and Rashid Masharawi. The Souk will also showcase over 20 local and regional exhibiting companies including, buyers, sales agents, film commissions, distributors, and exhibitors. Immediately following the Souk, the festival will hold Talent Days, a two-day initiative designed to support the development of the next generation of Saudi filmmakers.
Mohammed Al-Turki, RedSeaIFF’s Chairman of the Committee says, “This is truly a landmark moment as we launch our first international Film Festival to celebrate original cinematic voices and showcase an extensive selection of films from around the world to local, regional and international audiences. The Festival will also serve as a launchpad for young Saudi and Arab talent, support the development of our flourishing industry, introduce international Festival guests to our vibrant creative scene and bring together the global film industry to network, share knowledge and forge partnerships. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Jeddah for a packed programme of screenings, events and much more.”
You can check out our deep dive interview with Red Sea Managing Director Shivani Pandya Malhotra here.
Here’s the list of films announced today:
RED SEA COMPETITION
Communion, dir: Nejib Belkadhi
Paka (River Of Blood), dir: Nithin Lukose
Huda’s Salon, dir: Hany Abu-Assad
Soula, dir: Salah Issaad
Europa, dir: Haider Rashid
Brighton 4th, dir: Levan Koguashvili
Yuni, dir: Kamila Andini
Saloum, dir: Jean Luc Herbulot
Rupture, dir: Hamzah Jamjoom
Rehana Maryam Noor, dir: Abdullah Mohammad Saad
Hit The Road, dir: Panah Panahi
Life Suits Me Well, dir: Al Hadi Ulad-Mohand
Neighbours, dir: Mano Khalil
Farha, dir: Darin J Sallam
Sharaf, dir: Samir Nasr
The Alleys, dir: Bassel Ghandour
RED SEA SHORT COMPETITION
Carnivorous Bean Sprout, dir: Sae-Rom Seo
Anxious Body, dir: Yoriko Mizushiri
Seeking Aline, dir: Rokhaya Marieme Balde
New Abnormal, dir: Sorayos Prapapan
Astel, dir: Ramata-Soulaye Sy
All The Crows In The World, dir: Yi Tang
I Am Innocent, dir: Malak Quota
Number 26, dir: Gvantsa Meparishvili
Children’s Game, dir: Rim Mejdi
By The Sea, dir: Wissam Jafar
Space Woman, dir: Hadi Mousally
From The Mountain, dir: Faisal Attrache
Last Day Of Sun, dir: Kays Mejri
Lovesick In The West Bank; dir: Said Zagha
The Pyramid, dir: Mohamed Ghazala
Zawal, dir: Mujtaba Saeed
What Remained, dir: Rogina Bassaly
Tala’vision, dir: Murad Abu Eisheh