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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Leading film critics discussed the future of Saudi Arabia’s cinema industry at the first Film Criticism Conference held in Jeddah’s Al-Balad district.
The two-day forum was organized by the Saudi Film Commission in partnership with Jeddah’s Islamic Arts Biennale and focused on “Spirituality in Cinema.”
Those in attendance enjoyed workshops that introduced concepts related to media and cinematic awareness and stimulated reading films critically and objectively.
Among the local and visiting critics sharing their expertise and opinions were Naminata Diabate, Associate Professor at Cornell University and Book Author of Naked Agency, Saudi Ruba Al-Sweel, a writer and researcher of arts and culture, Indian Dr. Syed Haider, lecturer in world cinemas and Portuguese Sergio Dias Branco, a film critic and Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of Coimbra.
One of the main guests at the forum who is visiting the Kingdom for the first time, American Joe Kickasola, Professor, Film & Digital Media, Director of the Baylor in New York Program told Arab News that the Saudi Film Commission plays a critical role in forming the whole possibility of film-making within Saudi Arabia.
“It is creating an opportunity, it is creating a framework. The most important thing for film artists is to know the possibilities; otherwise, it is constantly challenging or trying to figure things out, but when you have a higher organization, it will help you out to achieve your goal and that’s the role of the Saudi Film Commission,” he said.
Saudi art expert Al-Sweel presented her recent research of media theory, looking at how platform capitalism and network spirituality breed a specific cultural moment.
She said: “There has always been brilliant independent attempts at creating a film community that strives to tell stories from a local vantage point — where depth of subject matter matches that of technical knowledge.
“Now and with the support and structures of institutions such as the Film Commission, we can expect an avalanche of critical films to come out of the country and into the world over the next decade.”
Forums are also to be held in Riyadh, Buraydah, Abha, Tabuk and Dhahran for people interested in the film sector in the Kingdom and abroad, and who specialize in film criticism.
It will also invite academic bodies concerned with local and international cinematic studies and research and local, regional, and international media outlets concerned with the cinema movement in the Kingdom.
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