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Red Sea International Film Festival


The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival will take place from December 6 -15, 2021 with live dailies on filmfestivals.com.

The Red Sea International Film Festival brings the best in Arab and World Cinema to Jeddah Old Town. The Festival showcases exciting new films on the Saudi big-screen, alongside retrospective programs celebrating the masters of cinema, the latest Saudi films, and feature and short film competitions. There are also industry events and workshops nurturing the next generation of talent.


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In conversation with Haifaa Al-Mansour

RED SEA FILM FESTIVAL 2021

HAIFAA AL-MANSOUR: A CELEBRATION

 

Interview by Emmanuel Itier

Last week, at The Red Sea film festival (https://redseafilmfest.com/en/ ) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;  the most important Saudi female filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haifaa_al-Mansour ), was finally celebrated for her courage, her talent and her vision to encourage waves of changes in this country with a “bad reputation”. Such reputation is sure to be shaken and the hope for a re-evolution is certainly on the horizon. We sat down with Haifaa to find out about her hopes, her doubts and what will come next in the magic land of Saudi Arabia, for women filmmakers in particular.

 

 

Q: How do you see the change happening for women, in Saudi Arabia?

 

Haifaa: Well, it certainly happening. In my case I was lucky to have created my own luck, especially coming from a family were I wasn’t speaking English as all. I was lucky that my parents were very liberal. For example they didn’t enforce the veil on me. I think it’s really about the passion within and how hard your fight for it. I remember doing my first short and I was totally an “amateur” but I had the drive within me and it worked out. More than ever there are helps and funding available for young female filmmakers. If you want to make it happen, today, it’s a reality. Also, cinemas are re-opened, many screens for many types of different films. It’s so much better from when I was a kid and we had to go to Egypt to watch a movie. And if I wanted to rent a vhs tape I had to stay outside the video store and they would bring the catalog for me to choose, but I couldn’t get in the place because it wasn’t a proper place for a woman. So now things have changed a great deal.

 

 

Q: You live in Los Angeles right now, how do you feel when you come back here in Saudi Arabia?

 

Haifaa: it’s really amazing to see women working everywhere, like at the airport. Most agent of immigration are women. When I grew there were zero women in contact with the public. We had to be shielded. Before, the thought about women is that their place was either at her father’s house, her husband’s house or at her grave! Even legally women have more rights. I have a sister that just divorced and before she would have lost her kids to her husband, but not anymore. On top of that she can do her own paperwork, she can drive to the court house, etc. It’s a whole different world. She feels really empowered.

 

 

Q: What are your hopes for the future and can a festival like The Red Sea International film festival can have an impact on the betterment of the situation in Saudi Arabia?

 

Haifaa: I have lots of hope and I can see how many Saudi women are getting involved with movies and making their own cinema. A festival like this allows us to discover a new wave of filmmakers, women filmmakers who are shaping the future of cinema in Saudi Arabia. I hope we will keep seeing more liberal voices emerging from this world. But it’s a process and we need to be a little patient. It’s moving along fine and we are moving in the right direction, I believe. This will, for sure, create a cultural shift. In any case I love coming back here and possibilities to make movie again, this is my home, my culture, my language. But I’m glad I now have the experience of working in Hollywood with a different frame of mind, at a fast pace, especially in tv. Also meeting great actors from America is amazing. You become very skilled with your craft and I love to bring back here all of my knowledge to share it with the local industry and the local filmmakers. In any case the power of cinema is about entertaining and I feel we are on the right track. Also, there are talks to open a film school and this is a solid sign that with education the rise of the movie will perdure. I can’t wait to be part of it and to bring great instructors from all around the world to share their knowledge with our students.

 

 

Q: What is the big dream now, do a Marvel movie?

 

Haifaa: Yes, I want to do a big Marvel movie and get a fat check. I love big action movies and I’m sure I can do a great job at it. Let’s see what comes next

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