Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Film Festival announces dates and major appointments, releases trailer

Former Dubai film fest staff join Mahmoud Sabbagh on new team

Saudi director Mahmoud Sabbagh is the head of the new Saudi film festival. Photo by Ahmed Mater
Saudi director Mahmoud Sabbagh is the head of the new Saudi film festival. Photo by Ahmed Mater

The Red Sea Film Festival will be held from March 12 - 21, 2020 in the old town of Jeddah, on the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast, led by Festival Director and CEO, Barakah Meets Barakah and Amra and the Second Marriage director Mahmoud Sabbagh and his newly appointed senior team.

Sabbagh has also directed a trailer to promote the festival, shot entirely in Jeddah Old Town and featuring a cast made up of young Saudi artists, including actors, cinematographers and dancers.

The festival’s remit is to develop and promote the film industry in Saudi Arabia, discover up-and-coming talent from the region and support a new wave of cinema from around the world with a focus on the Global South, and the Arab world in particular.

To this end, The Red Sea International Film Festival has launched The Red Sea Lodge: The New Arab Wave, a script & feature lab in collaboration with the TorinoFilmLab which will open for submissions on July 1, 2019.

The Red Sea Lodge will select 12 Arab projects of which at least six will be from Saudi filmmakers. Filmmakers will participate in a five-month support programme designed to develop their projects with national and international film industry experts.

The Red Sea Lodge will also assign two $500,000 awards to the best projects from the Script & Feature Lab and additional awards to financially support the further development of the projects.

The festival has also announced a number of key appointments to its management team, who will be supporting festival CEO, the Barakah Meets Barakah director Mahmoud Sabbagh.

Hussain Currimbhoy, formerly documentary programmer at the Sundance Film Festival, will act as Artistic Director, while Shivani Pandya Malhotra, who managed the Dubai International Film Festival for 15 years, joins as managing director. Fellow former DIFFer Antoine Khalife joins as director of the Arab Programme, a role he also played at DIFF. Samaher Mously will be director of marketing and communications and Ibrahim Modirwill serve as Head of Operations.

The Festival is supported by The Red Sea Film Festival Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization chaired by the Saudi minister of culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud. The foundation is charged with championing a new local film industry and nurturing national storytellers and local original narratives, both through the festival and year-round education and grants programs.

Updated: June 28, 2019 10:58 AM

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