The first eight films announced make up the Red Sea International Film Festival’s ‘Arab Spectacular’ strand bringing stories from Iraq, Palestine, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco. The festival take place from December 6-15 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Edouard Waintrop, Artistic Director of the (RedSeaIFF) said: “To be able to present the variety of Arab filmmakers and stories being told, and to amplify them on an international stage is the primary aim of the Festival. We know that the Arab world is not a monolith, and to see such diversity in the types of stories being told through these films is unique. We are proud to be able to showcase these films that speak to the progress and evolution of our industry, from some prominent Arab names”.
Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programmes & Film Classics added: “The stories being told as part of the ‘Arab Spectacular’ strand speak to the most diverse aspects of our society. The directors of these films reconstitute memories and above all redefine Arab identity, trying to find a specific part of the story and revisit it in an authentic way. The stories also give women a voice and bring perspective from both central protagonists and the directors, reassessing and exploring their place in society.
Acclaimed Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi will world premiere his feature Recovery, with the filmmaker’s latest feature taking a special journey through photographs from the 1930s-1948 across the historical city of Jaffa, where his father lived before being forced to emigrate in 1948.
Leading Algerian director Djaffar Gacem’s feature Héliopolis takes a historical turn, looking back at the reasons leading to demonstrations in Algiers in the aftermath of the Second World War on May 8, 1945.
Their Heads Are Green And Their Hands Are Blue sees Emmy-nominated director Jay Bulger team with Men in Black: International and Cherry producer Karim Debbagh as the pair follow in the footsteps of acclaimed composer and writer Paul Bowles, who in 1959 published a brief account of his three years travelling throughout Morocco as he set out to record and document the country’s vast musical landscape on behalf of the US Library of Congress.
Nabil Ayouch’s Casablanca Beats was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, screened recently at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt and has also been chosen as the Moroccan entry for Best International Feature Film at the upcoming 94th Academy Awards. The French-Moroccan director tells the story of Anas, a former rapper, who works in Casablanca. Torn between the threat of religious radicalism, the temptation of modernity and the weight of traditions, Anas opens up the minds and souls of his students through his teachings.
Tunisian actor Dhafer L'Abidine presents his feature directorial debut in Ghodwa. The film, which is also written by and stars L'Abidine, describes an unlikely father-son relationship, where the roles become reversed. As Habib’s health deteriorates, it brings him together with his 15-year-old son Ahmed from a previous marriage.
Iraqi director Shawkat Amin Korki’s fourth feature, The Exam, tells the story of a young woman, Rojan, living in Iraqi Kurdistan. Facing a forced marriage and aided by her sister, Shilan, who herself is in an unhappy marriage, Rojan strives to pass a college entrance exam.
Take Me to the Cinema, a documentary feature from Iraqi director Albaqer Jaafar, was one of 14 films chosen by the Red Sea Fund to receive production and post-production funding. The film follows the journey of former soldier Nassif, who fled the war in Iraq by escaping to the cinema.
Memory Box, co-directed and co-written by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, had its world premiere at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, becoming the first Lebanese film to be nominated for the Golden Bear for Best Film in four decades. The story, drawing inspiration from Hadjithomas’ real-life notebooks addressed to her best friend, focuses on Alex who receives an imposing box from Beirut intended for her mother, Maia.