The Red Sea Film Festival’s Second Edition Brings African, Asia and Western Cinema to Saudi Arabia

From December 1 to  December 10, the Red Sea International Film Festival will bring the world of cinema to its base in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Now in its second edition, the festival has announced a selection of films that include works from filmmaking newcomers and acclaimed masters from Asia, Africa, and the West.

Oliver Stone, the Oscar winning director behind such films as Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, and JFK, will head the festival’s main jury, the Features Competition Jury. And among the films to be screened at the festival are Park Chan-wook’sDecision to Leave, which won Best Director at the 75th Cannes Film Festival. Also showing are the well-received The Banshees of Inisherin by British playwright-director Martin McDonagh and Hirokazu Kore-eda’sBroker, for which Korean thespian Song Kang-Ho won Best Actor at Cannes this year.

To open the festival, the festival will screen What’s Love Got to Do with It?, a romantic comedy, by Shekhar Kapur and the closing film, Valley Road, comes from writer-director Khaled Fahd. Altogether, the festival will screen 131 feature and short films, as drawn from 61 countries. As with most reputable film festivals, it will host world premieres and regional premieres.

Fifteen films will slug it out in the Red Sea Competition. They include A Childless Village, the second feature from Reza Jami; Wissam Charaf’sDirty Difficult Dangerous; Kamila Andini’sBefore Now and Then (Nana); Kenyan director Angela Wanjiku’s The Pit; and Last Film Show from Pan Nalin, India’s official submission for the Best International Film category for the 2023 Oscars.

These films and others will compete for the Yusr Awards, which according to the festival was “launched to recognize and celebrate boldness and innovation in film”.

Speaking about the selection for the competition, Kaleem Aftab, the festival’s director of international programming, said, “Following the success of our inaugural Red Sea Competition, we received a high number of submissions so there were tough decisions to be made. We have been delighted by the extraordinary storytelling and this year’s selection is of the highest caliber showcasing the enormous depth and diversity of stories from Asia, Africa and the Arab world.”

Across the festival, a number of African productions and co-productions will be screened, including EryClaver’sOur Lady of the Chinese Shop from Angola, Khaled Chiheb’sKhamsa – the Well of Oblivion from Algeria, AmarteiArmar’s short film Tsutsue from Ghana, and FatihAkih’sRhinegold, from Morocco. South African director Oliver Hermanus’ latest, Living, will also be showing at the festival. Starring Bill Nighy, the film was written by Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro and is adapted from Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru.

“The Red Sea International Film Festival is cementing its position as a unique and powerful platform for celebrating film, connecting cultures, and expanding our horizons, said the festival’s CEO, Mohammed Al Turki, adding that, the festival’s programmers “have curated the best of Arab and international cinema, talent led galas of some of the most anticipated films of the year, and an exceptional selection from astonishing new Saudi talents who are paving the way in our country’s flourishing industry.

“We are so grateful to the loyal support of our sponsors and the incredible dedication of our talented RSIFF team, and we are excited to welcome everyone to Jeddah for our highly-anticipated second edition.”

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