Saudi authorities arrest drug dealers in eastern region, Madinah

Saudi authorities arrest drug dealers in eastern region, Madinah
Saudi authorities arrest drug dealers in eastern region, Madinah

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Two young Saudi film directors have been presented with trophies on Sunday evening for winning the Red Sea Film Foundation’s third “48Hr Film Challenge,” which saw participants racing against the clock to create a short film within a two-day limit.

The winning teams — JSR led by Jwana Al-Zahrani and 6th Grade C led by Abdulrahman Batawei — received their awards from the foundation and the consulate general of France on Sunday in a special screening held at Red Sea Mall in Jeddah.

The two-day challenge aimed to motivate emerging Saudi and Saudi-resident filmmakers to create original content. The endeavor has received backing from notable institutions including the Alliance Francaise, the Embassy of France in Saudi Arabia, NEOM, TV5 Monde, Hayy Jameel, and VOX Cinemas.

The 48Hr Film Challenge took place on July 28 and 29, during which time the participating teams wrote, shot and edited a short film. The 14 participants attended exclusive sessions from Aug. 25 to 27, including workshops and discussions with insights from four Saudi and four French filmmaking experts.

The technical workshops and mentorship sessions involved industry experts such as Lebanese scriptwriter and filmmaker Sophie Boutros, Saudi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Salman, Egyptian producer and filmmaker Hala Lotfy, and Jordanian director of photography Samer El-Nimri.

Holy Fatma, a French-Algerian actress and director, was involved as an expert in the program. Speaking about her experience, she told Arab News: “I am very happy to be part of this year’s edition of the 48Hr challenge. I got to do a masterclass on acting, and it was so enlightening, so refreshing, a lot of great talents and a lot of great ideas and very good films.

“It’s getting better every year … I was already invited last year for a directing workshop. So I’m very happy to be back. And I hope I’m going to be back every year.”

She added: “Because this country is opening after so many years of being closed, you can feel that they (aspiring filmmakers in Saudi Arabia) are eager to learn to meet, to discover, to create, to tell their stories, to tell also who they are in a way.”

Antoine Khalife, head of Arab programs and film classics at the foundation, told Arab News: “We chose from 90 subscription forms and only 14 participants. After selection, we chose a surprise element. Last year it was a piece of candy, and this year we chose radio, as all 14 short films will contain a radio, which will somehow make it a perfect fit in the film.

“It is true that 48 hours is a short time to present a film, but the workshops helped them organize their time and how to produce it.”

After the 14 films were showcased, a panel of internationally acclaimed filmmakers and industry experts, among them Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen, Egyptian actress Amina Khalil, and French writer Alexandre Tylski, selected the winners. “The Last Thread” and “Art Block” by the winning teams were singled out by the jury as remarkable instances of pioneering talent within Saudi cinema.

Batawie told Arab News: “Comparing to other films which I have worked on, the preparation time given in this competition was very challenging, and it was very difficult to somehow involve the surprise element in the scenario, but we made it. I did not expect to win!”

Al-Zahrani, who won with her debut film project, spoke about the most challenging part of the experience: “Time and the sequence of the scenes was very challenging.”

The Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France will award the two winning team leaders with an opportunity for a residency in France. Simultaneously, the winning short films will be showcased at the Red Sea International Film Festival in December. Joining this endeavor, NEOM is taking part as a production partner, extending its support to the winning teams.

NEOM will provide accommodation for the filmmakers at its expansive purpose-built facility, the largest in the region, enabling them to work on their projects throughout 2024. This assistance package encompasses not only financial incentives for filming within NEOM but also provides access to top-notch soundstages and a wide range of breathtaking landscapes.

The filmmakers will receive dedicated aid from the local industry team, and to further enhance their capabilities they will benefit from a six-month mentorship within the industry to ensure they possess all the necessary tools and resources for the completion of their films.

At the conclusion of the event, Zain Zedan, the manager of Red Sea Souk, announced that individuals who were not successful in winning would still have an opportunity to secure the Red Carpet Award. This chance could be achieved by audience voting, facilitated through various social media platforms.

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