First Saudi Film Festival

Guest blogger Lubna Hussain is currently in France enjoying the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival. Meanwhile, the first film festival in Saudi Arabia started last Tuesday in Dammam. The Associated Press reports, “It’s a far cry from the glamour of Cannes: No celebrities strutting their stuff; an all-male audience drinking coffee and juice rather than champagne; and if any female spectators showed up – well, no one knew. They came in through a back entrance into a separate hall, off-limits to the male organizers.”

Still, I think it is good to see the event takes place. I really wanted to attend some of the films there over the weekend, but unfortunately I’m stuck here in Riyadh for another week or so. The AP report carried this paragraph that made me feel like laughing and crying at the same time:

Information Minister Eyad Madani attended the festival Tuesday, giving the competition an unequivocal stamp of official approval. “There’s a debate over the issue of cinema and movies, and it’s a debate that should continue,” said Madani in a brief speech.

What debate the minister is talking about? The stupid debate over opening up cinema theaters in the country, like the debate over women’s driving, has gone way longer than it should. The government should step up and show its citizens and the world that they are not to be held back by a group of backward lunatics who, if it was up to them, would like to take us back to the Middle Ages. It is about time.

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12 thoughts on “First Saudi Film Festival

  1. this is so good ! Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, this is a dream !

    but how many Saudi Films we have ?!
    and did they deserve to be in the festival ?
    do we have an academy for teaching actress and directors ?
    and film editors !?
    or Film critic or Scriptwriter !

    we are so poor in films to make a festival of nothing !

    the country need collages or academes for teaching films editing to the young generation

    thank u Ahmad

  2. so you mean to say that Middle Ages were crap …? your Prophet (pbuh) was born before the Middle Ages which is even worse. So his teachings are mediocre as well? Answer that.
    Moreover, how do you cope with the possibility of spreading immorality if cinemas open. Even 14+ rated movies have scenes of intimacy and sexual nature which clash with the moral values of our religion. So, do you propose to sensor those scenes are leave it upto the public to watch them and be NOT effected by them?

  3. By the way this is the 2nd NOT the 1st, I think the first film festival took a place in Jeddah two years ago if I am not mistaken.
    Any way it is always healthy to see the changes of society of course to the batter and much wide mentality..

  4. Saudi Film Festival !! what a stupid joke !!

    changes are going in the wrong side !! they should made it for (lets say Media) or something already here and already working but we need to improve it.. Film festival means Festival of Nothing !?!?!?! lol

    let’s focus on the bright side,,, the logo of the Festival is really Unique :P

  5. I agree with Nuna & Rawan. We do not have real academic studies of Arts (by all means). We also do not have actors and directors of high caliber. I think such “festival” is like cheating ourselves. We do not have even the environment to either watch, make movies!.

    I personally think that we are in the dark ages in some aspects of life.

  6. Viscious, dude, you still are in the middle of the dark age. The prophet (pbuh) was an inspired and enlightened man who was way ahead of where you are now.

    Maybe a film festival is a bit high flown in a country without actors, academies, and even cinemas. But I do think there are many who would like to be able to make movies, and for those I’m sure organising this festival will be a great incentive. You have to start somewhere.

    And you don’t have to make stupid hollywood pics to be a filmmaker, there are beautiful, inspiring films made all over the world with more to say and show. Why shouldn’t Saudis be capable (allowed) of enriching the cinema-world with some of their insights?

  7. Why don’t you all be optimistic instead of saying it’s a stupid joke or that we’re still living in the dark ages !!

    This is a progress in my opinion, I didn’t know that and now I think it’s great to have it !

    and I hope things get better in the next few months or let’s say few years.. (it might take a century but I think it worths staying optimistic)

  8. Good to hear Saudi Arabia is having it’s first filmfestival. Movies are my window to the world. I try to attend the International Filmfestival Rotterdam (IFFR) each year to get a bit of ‘anti-poison’ against Hollywood ;-)

    There are a lot of beautifull and interesting movies made outside Hollywood, also by people who never attended formal filmstudies. So I can’t wait to see the first Saudi movie screening at the IFFR or Saudi Filmmaker in the Spotlight.

    The Hubert Bals Fund or the Tiger Competion might even be a good stage for Saudi directors and actors. It has been for directors from various countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, but also directors from countries in Africa and South America.

  9. “how do you cope with the possibility of spreading immorality if cinemas open”

    What immorality!!! they’re just freakin’ movies just like the ones found in video stores

    90% of saudis have satellite TVs that view what you people call immorality 24/7

    People like you make me sick
    go back to your cave!!!!

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