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RIYADH: The second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival will take place from December 1-10 this year, organizers have announced.

It follows the successful inaugural edition of the event late last year, which presented 138 films to more than 30,000 spectators who came to celebrate Jeddah’s historic festival.

“We are grateful to the cinema and the local community who trusted us. It was a huge undertaking and the team worked extremely hard to deliver a festival that I believe exceeded expectations,” said Mohammed Al-Turki, Chairman of the Red Sea International Festival Committee.

“Bringing people together through the universal language of cinema in the historic setting of Jeddah’s historic Old City and seeing emerging local filmmakers show their films alongside international counterparts in sold out cinemas was truly extraordinary,” he said. -he adds.

The festival returns to the cultural heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jeddah in the old town of Al-Balad, and will present a fascinating selection of new and varied films alongside a retrospective program celebrating the masters of cinema. It also seeks to introduce audiences to new voices from the region and beyond.

The festival again hopes to provide a platform for Arab filmmakers and industry professionals from around the world to connect, organize short film competitions and present a series of events, master classes and workshops to support emerging talent.

“The future is bright for Saudi cinema, and I look forward to welcoming new guests from around the world for our second edition,” Al-Turki said.

During the inaugural 10-day edition, which took place last year in December, screenings were presented in five purpose-built theaters as well as venues across the city. There were also showcases of the latest high-profile art projects and virtual reality storytelling.

An impressive 27 Saudi films from a wave of local filmmakers were presented to international audiences as part of 138 films and shorts from 67 countries. Female directors accounted for 38% of the content offered.

The Saudi films shown at the festival offered viewers a unique opportunity to explore all aspects of Saudi society. The festival provided a valuable platform for Saudi filmmakers to showcase their work on the big screen to the global film industry.

An array of filmmakers and talents graced red carpets, held master classes and met with festival-goers, including Haifaa Al-Mansour, Yousra, Laila Eloui, Catherine Deneuve, Clive Owen, Hilary Swank, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Anthony Mackie , Vincent Cassel and Akshay Kumar.

The Red Sea International Film Festival also hosts several initiatives, including The Red Sea Lodge, which is now open to applications from Saudi and Arab directors, producers and screenwriters.

Last year, the Red Sea Fund announced a $14 million initiative, which to date has supported 97 projects from Africa and the Arab world with development and post-production in the form of grants and funds, helping to bring the films to a global audience.

The Red Sea Souk hosted an array of exhibiting companies, including buyers, sales agents, film commissions, distributors and exhibitors. It concluded with more than $700,000 awarded to projects selected as part of the Red Sea Souk Awards.

After the souk, festival-goers were able to attend Talent Days, a two-day initiative designed to support the development of the next generation of Saudi filmmakers.

The RSIFF Film Competition also saw Oscar-winning Italian director and writer Giuseppe Tornatore at the helm, and along with his fellow jurors, they presented 13 Yusr Awards to recognize the greatest achievements in storytelling. ‘Brighton 4th’, directed by Levan Koguashvili, won Best Film, and the festival Audience Award went to Hamzah K. Jamjoom for ‘Rupture’ and ‘You Look Like Me’, directed by Dina Amer.

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