The accepted films for the eighth session are included 36 films to participate in all competitions, with 8 films listed in the long feature category, 28 films in the short film production, and 33 were nominated for the parallel presentation program film.
The festival will be held from June 2 to 9, organized by the Saudi Film Association and in partnership with the King Abdul-Aziz Centre for World Culture Centre (Ithra) and with the support of the Film Commission at the Ministry of Culture.
Saudi films compete in the feature film competitions for the “Golden Palm” Awards in addition to a financial reward for each award are as follows:
1-The Golden Palm for the best feature film
2- The Golden Palm for the Jury Prize
3- Golden Palm for the best Actor
4- Golden Palm for the best Actress
5- The Golden Palm for the best music
6- The Golden Palm for the best cinematic image
7- Golden Palm Award for the best screenplay
The festival administration has also created for this session the Gulf Film Award, for which the Gulf films nominated in the competition will compete.
Narrative and documentary short films compete in the short film competition for the “Golden Palm Awards”, in addition to a financial reward for each Award would be as follows:
1- The Golden Palm for the best short film
2- The Golden Palm for the best Documentary short film
3- Jabal Tuwaiq Award for the best short film about a Saudi city
4- Abdullah Al-Muhaisen Award for a first film
The festival received long and short script entries to compete for prizes in the unexecuted scenario competition, for which the Ghazi Al-Gosaibi Award for best screenplay for a Saudi novel was created for the first time, and also for preparing films as projects ready for production. The prizes for the unimplemented scenario competition will be as follows:
1-Best First long screenplay Award
2-Best Second long-term screenplay Award
3- Best long-term screenplay Award
4 Best First short screenplay Award
5-Best second short screenplay Award
6- Ghazi Al-Gosaibi Award for best screenplay for a Saudi novel
The jury for long features films is chaired by Qutaiba Al-Jabani, an independent Iraqi filmmaker and producer. He holds a Ph.D. in the study of cinema in the Arab world.
Al-Jabani, also, worked as a director and producer for MBC and as a photographer for seven feature films, moreover he directed and produced a number of Award-winning short films at international festivals.
Aisha Kay: A Saudi/Canadian actress and writer, holder of Master’s degree in writing, she also played major and supporting roles in short films and series that lead her to main role of the Canadian long feature film “The Jasmine Road” in 2020, for which she was nominated for three awards and subsequently joined the Canadian actors syndicate.
Ahmed Fawzy Saleh: Egyptian director, professional writer, and content development supervisor for TV stories prepared for digital platforms. Fawzy Saleh’s documentary film “Live Skin” participated in many international festivals, and won several awards so did his long feature film “Poisonous Roses”, which was shown at the International Film Festival; it won several Awards among which the International Rotterdam 2018, Cairo Film Festival, 17 Awards all together.
The short film jury is chaired by Moroccan-American director and author Hakim Bellabas, who holds a Master’s degree in cinema from Columbia University in Chicago; he has written and directed many fictions and documentaries.
The Committee includes in its membership:
Ilham Al-Ali: A Saudi artist, holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Administration; she studied theatre and Arts. Ilham participated in many series, won several awards in theatre and television, she has also taken part in several short and long films produced in the Gulf as well as internationally.
Ilham Al-Ali also moderated the opening night of the Middle East and North Africa Film Festival in Vancouver (Canada) in 2021, deservedly received certificates of participation in two mentor programs for actors.
Ayten Mutlu Saray: A Swiss director and lecturer specializing in culture and cinema, director of the “Del Aube” Festival in Basel (Switzerland); Ayten has shown her work in major festivals including Cannes, Rotterdam and Locarno, Saray received many international scholarships in the world of cinema.
The script jury is chaired by the Saudi director and screenwriter Abdulmohsen Al-Dabaan, who directed several short films and television series, he also directed the feature film “The last visit” in 2019, and participated in many film festivals.
The Committee includes in its membership:
Mohamed Al-Haraz: A Saudi poet and critic. In his critical readings Al-Haraz worked on monitoring the cultural scene in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and issued several collections of poetry and critical studies.
Dia Youssef: Artist, writer, and independent film director; and one of her most prominent works is the three-award winning movie Oueld Sidra.
As an initiative by him to highlight the first experiences and founder of the movement in the Gulf, Ahmed Al-Mulla said that this year’s edition would honor both Saudi filmmaker Khalil Bin Ibrahim Al-Rawaf and Kuwaiti director Khaled Al Siddiq.
Al-Mulla added that the selection of these characters came based on the great impact they had on the world of the Saudi and Gulf film industry, where Khalil Al-Rawaf, the son of Buraidah and the merchant of Al-Aqilat, was the first Arab actor to stand in front of Hollywood cameras in 1939, and during his stay in the USA, after his marriage to Frances Allison, Khalil Al-Rawaf was chosen to be the Arab clothing technician in the movie “I was a War Correspondent “ then in the same movie he was chosen to play while he was in America on radio, and other things he took part in.
The works that colored his biography and his life which exceeded one hundred years, was colorful and full of adventures and diversity. It was active and away from routine and monotony.
As for the second honored Kuwaiti director Khalil Al-Siddiq, Al-Mulla was chosen as the owner of the first footprint and initiative in the world of cinema in Kuwait and the Arab Gulf, who later became the godfather of this art in the region before he reached the age of 20.
In defiance of his passion that he carried with him from India while studying there, he defied with this passion his parents, circumstances and time, reaping many international and Arab awards to pave the way for the people of his profession, starting with his masterpiece “Bas ya Bahr” and not ending with his tireless work before the gates of rulers and people of power to introduce legislation that would support the cinema sector and those working in it.
Not to mention that it was the first school that was taken from the Gulf environment, its customs and traditions, a ground and basis for the cinematic works that he worked, adhering to originality and identity.
In addition to screenings of Golden Palm films, parallel films, and poetry films the festival offers a distinctive package of cultural and enrichment programs, which include seminars and advanced training workshops, in addition to providing a platform for production companies, producers, and filmmakers, to enable their projects through the production market.
The Saudi film festival also publishes 14 books as part of the knowledge series that it publishes every year.
On the theme of this session, Al-Mulla said that the focus of this year is poetic cinema, and the light will be shed on a trend that has shaped visually astonishment, with aesthetic symbolism, and philosophical connotations. Signs and symbols stimulate creative imagination.
The festival has taken the theme of poetic cinema as its visual identity, in addition to that it will present a special program of international film screenings from the heart of this current in its various artistic forms, through the festival days.
It is considered the first film festival in Saudi Arabia since its inception in 2008, continuing the interest in Saudi films, encouraging creators and developing a culture of filmmaking, while creating a competitive environment among Saudi filmmakers. The total participation in the past seven sessions reached 865 films, along with 1,043 unexecuted scripts.