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Red Sea International Film Festival

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival will take place from December 6 -15, 2021 with live dailies on

The Red Sea International Film Festival brings the best in Arab and World Cinema to Jeddah Old Town. The Festival showcases exciting new films on the Saudi big-screen, alongside retrospective programs celebrating the masters of cinema, the latest Saudi films, and feature and short film competitions. There are also industry events and workshops nurturing the next generation of talent.


The Red Sea Souk launches today with 23 video pitches and a program celebrating Haifaa Al Mansour and women in film

Today is the first day of the Red Sea Souk, with the Video Pitch of 23 projects as our opening event for registered Souk participants.

It’s also another exciting day at the festival itself, with a special celebration of women in cinema including an “In conversation” meeting with Haifaa Al Mansour, whose film Wadjda was the first feature to be shot in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and went on win numerous international awards, including the BAFTA for the best film in a language other than English. Wadjda will screen before the director’s discussion.

On the opening ceremony she expressed her support for all women in film in Saudi Arabia and commented "Cinema gave me my voice. I grew up in a period when women and arts in Saudi Arabia had no centre. Today, we are the centre. A new page has opened. I consider my honour as a woman as a tribute to all the girls in Saudi Arabia, and I tell them not to be afraid of competition. We are coming and we are coming in strong" she concluded


Photo by HaylieNiemann 

Welcome to the Souk!


Video Pitch at the Project Market


9.30 - 15.00 (with break from 12-13.30)

Vox Cinemas Al Balad 1

At the Video Pitch – the Souk’s opening event – directors and producers present their project inspirations, motivations, and production plans to an audience of industry professionals. The 23 selected projects have been invited from Senegal, Zimbabwe, Palestine, the Congo, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia and, of course, Saudi Arabia.


Souk Talks

Working with MENA Partners: case study Desert Warrior


Souk Talks Room


Desert Warrior, a co-production directed by Rupert Wyatt, starring Anthony Mackie and Aiysha Hart and shot in Saudi Arabia, is billed as the KSA’s first tentpole movie. Hear how this big-budget period epic came together in a panel discussion moderated by Variety’s Nick Vivarelli and featuring Stuart Ford from US producer AGC Studios and Abu Alsamh, general manager of MBC Studios, the production arm of prominent broadcaster MBC Group.


Trends in Immersive Storytelling: A Masterclass by Liz Rosenthal


Souk Talks Room


Red Sea Immersive and Venice VR curator Liz Rosenthal gives us an introduction to the amazing new world of virtual reality and augmented reality.


Networking Session: Meet with Producers and Financiers



Mingle at the close of the day’s business with those in the know; today’s focus is on producers and financiers. 


Market Screening


Souk badge-holders only



15.00 -16.30

Vox Cinema


Screening of Maan Bin Abdulrahmane’s forthcoming adventure-horror about a Saudi Arabian would-be vlogger who travels to Southern California in search of paranormal activity – and finds it!


To be followed by an exclusive announcement of plans for Junoon 2.


Festival Talks


Red Sea: In Conversation with Haifaa Al Mansour


Al Balad 2


Director of the first film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, Wadjda, Haifa Al Mansour has also directed a biopic of Mary Shelley and The Perfect Candidate, which was very well received and confirmed her as an inspirational film-maker for women – and men – across the Arab world. To be preceded at 15.00 by a screening of Wadjda.


Akshay Kumar In Conversation

15.00 to 15.30

Vox Cinemas Al Balad 2


The hugely popular actor, film producer, martial artist and television personality – and the only Bollywood actor to make it on to the Forbes rich list – shares his inspiring story.


Festival Films


Red Sea Gala Screenings


Sing 2

15.15 -17.12

Red Sea Gala Theatre by Vox Cinemas at Al Balad


Irresistible family fun as koala impresario Buster Moon takes his cabaret of singing animals on the road – and lures a reclusive lion, voiced by Bono, out of retirement.




Red Sea Gala Theatre by Vox Cinemas at Al Balad


Five stories from five Saudi directors, Sara Mesfer, Jawaher Alamri, Noor Alameer, Hind Alfahhad Fatima Al-Banawi, taking a deep dive into the changes, contradictions and dilemmas in Saudi society.


Lost Daughter


Red Sea Gala Theatre by Vox Cinemas at Al Balad


Olivia Colman stars in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s remarkable story of a mother estranged from her daughters who gets entangled with a stranger’s family while on holiday.



Films screening today directed by women…


Red Sea Treasures




Vox Cinemas, Al Balad 2


Haifaa Al Mansour’s international hit about a rebellious Saudi girl whose dream is to ride a bicycle, even if it is forbidden. Followed by an “In Conversation” with the director.






21.30 – 23.10

Vox cinemas, Al Balad 4


Kamila Andini’s film – Indonesia’s official submission to the Oscars – shows a young teenage girl struggling to resist early marriage.




18.45 – 20.22

Vox cinemas, Al Balad 1


Darin J. Sallam’s story of a Palestinian girl in 1948 who, just as she succeeds in persuading her father to let her go to school, must go into hiding as her village is bombed.


International Spectacular


Sisters (repeat screening)

18.45 -20.29

Vox Cinemas, Al Balad 1


Three sisters who fled Algeria with their mother to France go back as adults to try to find the brother who was left behind.


Festival Favourites


As in Heaven

Vox Cinemas, Al Balad 3



Tia Lindeberg’s adaptation of a 1912 Danish novel about a young girl on a remote farm whose mother dies in childbirth, leaving her to look after the family. 


New Saudi New Cinema:




Vox Cinemas, Al Balad 2


Five Saudi women film-makers, Al Nahdi, Norah Almowald, Ruba Khafagy, Fatma Alhazmi, Noor Alameer, five stories of Saudi women risking everything to carve out their own spaces in a conservative society.



Also screening today:




Hit the Road

1830 – 20.08

Al Balad 4


Panah Panahi’s funny, moving road movie about a chaotic family heading across Iran, their emotional tug-of-war being played out inside a borrowed car.



21.45- 23.42

Vox cinemas

Al Balad 1


Soula Bahri plays herself in this story of a young single mother rejected by her family and society, trying to survive a long night on the road in Algeria.


Red Sea: Immersive [VR]


A journey into virtual reality continues at Hayy Jameel.

One-hour slots available at 11, 1215, 1330, 1515, 1630, 1745, 1930, 2045 and 2200.


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