Saudi film ‘Irtidad’ shortlisted at international festival

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - DHAHRAN: The new Saudi movie “Irtidad” — funded by the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) — has been shortlisted for screening at the 42nd Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, which will take place from Jan. 31 to Feb. 8 in France. The film has been selected from 9,000 submissions and 80 nominees.

The head of performing arts at Ithra, Majed Z. Samman, said the film was presented as part of the Saudi Film Days contest, which is one of the center’s initiatives for developing local cinema.

He said: “The center supports the cinema industry in the Kingdom by recognizing invaluable talents and encouraging them to be part of the world stage.”

The film, which was directed by Mohamed Al-Hamoud, explores the local culture of the southern regions in the Kingdom. Al-Hamoud said that the movie follows young newlyweds who find themselves outside their comfort zone as they go on a short trip to a remote village in the rural areas of Saudi Arabia.

He explained that the story explores the cultural shock from experiencing new worlds.

The film begins by introducing the couple and revealing their contrasting backgrounds. The wife was raised in Jeddah, a bustling city in sharp contrast to the husband’s upbringing in a remote village in Jazan. His humble family wished to dazzle the wife with a traditional dinner party, so the villagers would get to know her. The husband tries to persuade his family to simplify the party for fear of culturally shocking his wife.

Al-Hamoud said that the film was titled “Irtidad,” which means recoil in English, “because its events revolve around the culture shock or the first recoiling that occurs when exploring a new and different world. The exposure caused by the environment, the places and the new faces portrays the initial test for their emerging relationship.”

“Irtidad” has been shown at three international festivals: The Kolkata International Film Festival in India, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia and the Lublin Film Festival in Poland. All of these events focus on celebrations of heritage from around the world.

The director said that the film’s showcasing of Saudi culture led to the nomination at the Clermont-Ferrand festival, which is one of the world’s most prestigious short film festivals.

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