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Everything You Need to Know About Saudi Arabia’s First European Film Festival

Palina Rojinski and Eric Kabongo in ‘Welcome to Germany’, which will be screened at Saudi Arabia’s first European Film Festival. Photo: Warner Bros Entertainment

Saudi Arabia is gearing up to host its first ever European Film Festival, organized by the Delegation of the European Union in Riyadh and film distribution company Arabia Pictures Group.

Set to take place at The Esplanade in Riyadh, the film festival will run from June 15 to June 22 and will screen 14 European films from different countries including Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. With the aim to showcase the diversity of European cinema to all the Saudi film enthusiasts, the event also acts as a form of cultural exchange between the continent and the Kingdom. “As the EU, we are keen to add to the vibrant cultural scene of Saudi Arabia, facilitating cultural exchange and introducing European culture while also fostering contacts between Europeans and Saudis to enhance mutual understanding,” said Patrick Simonnet, EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Some of the key films to be screened include the acclaimed 2019 French romcom Les Parfums, starring Gregory Montel and Emmanuelle Devos, the 2016 comedy Welcome to Germany, a box office hit in Germany that collected more than US $20 million, and the 2020 documentary I Am Greta following climate change activist Greta Thunberg. A few of the guests present at the screening will include film directors Gregory Magne and Marios Piperides, from France and Cyprus among others. Other events include Alberto Battocchi, Film Commissioner of Trentino, raising awareness on environmental practices around movie-making; Giacomo Mazzariol, the screenwriter of the Italian film My Brother Chases Dinosaurs and Matti Rockenbauch, who will discuss the legal aspects of filmmaking with the Saudi film community.

“This event is a milestone within the Kingdom and a bridge between Europe and the rising film industry in Saudi Arabia,” shared Arabian Pictures chief executive Roua Al Madani and added that the festival aims to further develop the promising Saudi film industry.

The screenings will take place at Vox Cinemas which is also co-sponsoring the event along with Alliance Française, Goethe Institut and the Embassy of Italy to Saudi Arabia. “Film not only has the ability to entertain but also provides audiences with a window into other cultures. Vox Cinemas is proud to sponsor the inaugural European Film Festival in Riyadh, which celebrates the transformative power of cinema,” commented Mohamed Al Hashemi, country head, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment, Cinemas & Lifestyle.

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