Oliver Stone will chair the main competition jury for the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, making good on a promise to compete in this 2020 role.
The Oscar winner Born on July 4th and Natural born killers The director was previously announced as Jury President for the 2020 festival’s inaugural edition, which has been postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The festival, which runs from December 1-10 in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, unveiled most of the line-up for its second edition on Monday
From now on, 131 long and short films from a total of 61 countries will be shown, including 34 world premieres; 17, regional premieres and 47, MENA premieres.
The main competition, which focuses on works by Arab, African and Asian directors, will present 15 films, with potential additions.
This includes the world premiere of Moroccan and French director Omar Mouldouira A summer in Boujadabout a Paris-raised teenager trying to find his place in a newly assembled family in Morocco after his widowed father remarries.
Two Saudi feature films will also debut in competition: Mohamed Al Salmans raven song, It follows a man who is diagnosed with a brain tumor just as he meets the woman of his dreams, Moe Alatawi In sandabout a young tobacconist who is attacked by thieves on his way home to his pregnant wife.
Angolan director Ery Claver is one of the African competitors Our Lady of the Chinese Store, an allegory of the current state of Africa centered around an imported plastic model of the Virgin Mary said to have special powers. The film premiered in Locarno in the summer.
Kenyan editor-turned-writer-director, Angela Wanjiku The pit, follows a once-respected English teacher who has just been released from prison as he rebuilds his life in the rural Kenyan village of Shimoni, which translates to ‘the pit’. The feature debuted in Toronto’s Discovery series.
Other 2022 festival hits in the selection include the female-centric post-independence drama by Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini Before and then (Nana), which premiered in competition in Berlin; Lotfy Nathan’s popular uprising story in Tunisia Harkawhich debuted in Cannes Un Certain Regard, and the Cannes Critics title by Korean director July Jung Next sohee.
The Venice titles in the mix include those by Syrian director Soudade Kaadan Nezouh, The Last Queen by the Algerian director duo Damien Ounouri and Adila Bendimerad, Dirty Difficult Dangerous by the Lebanese and French director Wissam Charaf, Hanging Gardens by Iraqi director Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji and Kazakh filmmaker Eldar Shibanov scallion.
Other contenders include this year’s Indian Oscar entry, Ode to Cinema Last screening by Pan Nalin and Iranian filmmaker Reza Jamiis a childless villageabout an elderly filmmaker who returns to the village where he once shot an investigative documentary about unexplained infertility and finds that all is not as it seemed at the time.
“The films competing in the Red Sea Competition, some of which have received significant support from the Red Sea Fund, span a wide range of different genres and eras and have been created by a variety of incredibly talented filmmakers,” director Antoine Khalife told Arabic Programs & Classic Films for the RedSeaIFF.
“The Arabic actors shine in extremely challenging roles, while the directors identify with the characters in all their complexity and we are confronted with remorse, redemption, courage, selfishness and revenge, but also love in all its facets. “
Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the RedSeaIFF, added that the number of submissions has increased significantly this year following the festival’s successful inaugural edition.
“There were difficult decisions to make,” he said. We loved the exceptional storytelling and this year’s selection is of the highest quality, showing the tremendous depth and diversity of stories from Asia, Africa and the Arab world.”
Openings, closing films, red carpet galas
The festival also announced Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur’s cross-cultural romantic comedy What does love have to do with it?He opens the festival with a red carpet gala.
The feature film, starring Lily James as a London filmmaker who travels to Lahore with her best friend (Shazad Latif) to document his journey to an arranged marriage, originally premiered in Toronto.
The drama by Saudi writer and director Khaled Fahd valley road is announced as the graduation film.
The culturally groundbreaking story follows the journey of an autistic boy growing up in a beautiful mountain village after getting lost on his way to see a doctor in a neighboring village.
Other gala titles on the red carpet include those of Saudi director Fahad Alammari alchallate+. A spin-off of the successful online series AlKhallatWith 1.5 billion views during its 22 episodes, the anthology film spans four stories of deception and tricks in unlikely places.
Lara Saba’s are also seen on the red carpet All roads lead to RomeHirokazu Kore-edas broker, Martin McDonaghs The Banshees by Inisherin, Park Chan-Wook’s decision to leave, Simon Mendes’ realm of lightZeyad Alhusainis How I got thereJohn Ikram Sawers kamla, Joel Crawford’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Yasmin BenkiranQueens, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah rebel and Ruben Ostlunds triangle of sadness.
In addition to the main competition and red carpet screenings, other sidebars include Festival Favorites, New Saudi/New Cinema, Red Sea: Treasures, Red Sea: Arab and International Spectacular, Red Sea: Family and Kids, Red Sea: Virtual Reality and Red Sea sea : series.
This edition also sees the launch of a new strand, Red Sea: New Vision, dedicated to filmmakers who push the boundaries of creativity with a style of genre-defining filmmaking that challenges audiences.
“Our programmers have curated the best of Arabic and international cinema, talented galas featuring some of the most anticipated films of the year, and an exceptional lineup of amazing new Saudi talent paving the way into our country’s thriving industry,” said CEO of RedSeaIFF Mohammed Al Turki.
The festival also unveiled a program of talks with award-winning filmmakers Fatih Akin, Gurinder Chadh and Kaouther Ben Hania, as well as Egyptian actress Mona Zaki and veteran Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmy.
In line with its mission to support the growth of a television and film industry in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and North Africa region, the festival will also host the second edition of its industry platform Red Sea Souk.
The event includes an exhibition space showcasing local businesses and film and television initiatives, a talks program and a project market showcasing 23 upcoming feature films by Arab and African directors.
“The country is rapidly cementing its position as a hub for film, culture, arts and fashion while evolving into a world-class center for film production,” said Shivani Pandya, Managing Director of RedSeaIFF Malhotra.
“The Red Sea IFF is at the center of this transformation and provides a platform to showcase a new generation full of energy and creativity. Through the Red Sea Souk we are able to support filmmakers at all stages of their careers and our programs follow the full filmmaking cycle throughout the year.”