Festival-goers optimistic about Saudi filmmaking industry

Sun, 2017-04-02 03:00

DHAHRAN: Filmmaking and cinema are a powerful art form used to communicate social, cultural, emotional and political messages.
Despite all the challenges, Saudi Arabia has become a breeding ground for young aspiring filmmakers, producers, cinematographers, media personalities and actors.
Speaking with members of the filmmaking community on the fifth day of the Saudi Film Festival, Arab News observed a sense of optimism, pride and excitement for the filmmaking industry in the Kingdom and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Ajwa Al-Joudi, co-master of ceremony at the festival who returned to the Kingdom after pursuing a master’s degree in television and radio in the US, said things have evolved immensely.
She presented the Saudi Film Days event in Los Angeles in November 2016. The Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts recognized her work and asked her to present the fourth edition of the Saudi Film Festival. Al-Joudi said she is enjoying the process and the opportunity to meet people in her field.
“The movies being screened are great, but we can do so much more. I hope to see movie adaptions of Saudi literature and books,” she said.
“I’m pleasantly surprised and glad to have come at a time when the foundation (for the film and media scene) has been laid down,” she added.
“The future of the filmmaking industry in Saudi Arabia looks great, and I won’t be surprised if five or six years down the line we hear about cinemas opening up.”
Drawing inspiration from a true story, filmmaker Abdulmohsen Al-Mutairi created “Daesh Girl” during his government-funded graduate studies in the US.
The movie is about a woman who joins Daesh in a secret mission to fight against it. The film has been screened in 20 film festivals, and has garnered positive reactions thus far.
“The story focuses on humanity, on women’s rights. It’s about passion and art. The message is to fight extremists anywhere in the world,” Al-Mutairi said.
The promotional line of the movie makes quite a statement: “A film dedicated to everyone fighting the injustices of the world.”
He said: “We have the potential to evolve into a big industry. It would be a great place to invest, and we develop partnerships with our neighbors, the UAE and Kuwait. There are beautiful stories waiting to be told. There has been tremendous support from the community, both liberals and conservatives.”
Movies screened on the fifth day of the festival include “Sound” (social), “Coward” (drama), “Black Flag” (thriller), “In Day and Night” (documentary), “The Bliss of Being No-One” (drama) and “Sound of Love” (drama, music).

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