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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Saudi Arabia to make Cannes Film Festival debut 

A big part of the presence at the festival will be to promote the Kingdom as a filming location

Filmmaker and actor Ahd Kamel, who starred in Wadjda, is one of the Saudi film industry's brightest talents. Courtesy Odd Camel Films
Filmmaker and actor Ahd Kamel, who starred in Wadjda, is one of the Saudi film industry's brightest talents. Courtesy Odd Camel Films

The Saudi Film Council, which was formed only last month, has announced that it will participate in the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival from May 8 to 19.

The Kingdom will have a pavillion where guests of the French film event will be able to meet KSA filmmakers and industry professionals, and learn about Saudi Arabia as a potential filming location.

READ MORE: 10 beautiful locations in Saudi Arabia

This news comes days after it was announced that Black Panther will be the first film screened in the AMC multiplex opening in Riyadh on April 18, and just under a month after Saudi Arabia's investment in Hollywood talent agency Endeavor was revealed. Endeavor stages events worldwide, from New York Fashion Week to Ultimate Fighting Championship fights.

Nine short films by Saudi Arabia’s young filmmakers will screen at Cannes’ Short Film Corner on May 14 and May 15.

From left to right: Waad Mohammed as Wadjda and Abdullrahman Al Gohani as Abdullah in Wadjda. Tobias Kownatzki / Razor Film / Sony Pictures Classics
From left to right: Waad Mohammed as Wadjda and Abdullrahman Al Gohani as Abdullah in Saudi film Wadjda.

“The Kingdom looks forward to its debut presence at the festival, celebrating and supporting the diversity of talent and opportunities within the Saudi film industry,” said Dr. Awwad Alawwad, Minister of Culture and Information and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Culture Authority. “With a rich tradition of storytelling, Saudi Arabia is embarking on the development of a sustainable and dynamic industry that supports and encourages all stages of a film cycle and offers an incredible range of locations for the world’s filmmakers to discover.”

The film industry has been identified as one of the key pillars of the cultural industry that will help Saudi towards its Vision 2030 plans, which hope to wean the economy off its dependency on oil.

Saudi talent was on display at Middle East Film & Comic Con in Dubai last weekend, too, with young talent like illustrator Lulua Al Moudara showcasing their work:

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - APRIL 7, 2018. 

Lulua Al Moudara, a young Saudi illustrator, at the Middle East Film and Comic Con.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Lulua Al Moudara, a young Saudi illustrator, at Comic Con. Reem Mohammed / The National