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All You Need to Know About the Red Sea International Film Festival Lineup


The inaugural edition of Saudi Arabia‘s Red Sea International Film Festival is looking to dazzle Jeddah with some of the world’s best cinema talents, 138 films from 67 countries, and 25 premieres from December 6 to 15, 2021. At the Unesco World Heritage Site of Jeddah Old Town, the film festival is expected to enliven the historic port town of Jeddah while bringing Saudi Arabia forward as one of the leaders in the art of cinema. The festival launched three years ago and was set to inaugurate in March 2020, however, the date was pushed ahead due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Opening Titles

The 19th century French playwright-inspired musical Cyrano by director Joe Wright and starring Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage will open the ceremony. Set to release theatrically around the world by the end of the year, the film revolves around a character who impresses everyone with his clever word and swordplay, but feels unworthy of the affections of his love due to his appearance.


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The title opening the competition on December 7 is feminist thriller Huda’s Salon by Palestinian director Hany Abu Assad. Other participants include Communion; Tunisian director Nejib Belkadhi’s Covid-19 lockdown drama; Europa, Iraqi-Italian director Haider Rashid’s immigration thriller, and Yuni by Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini.

Red Sea Competition

The Red Sea Competition will uncover its 16 competitors battling for the Golden Yusr Award for best film and titles in directing, acting and writing categories. Among those films is the Iranian debut Hit the Road by Panah Panahi, also named Best Film at the BFI London Film Festival, and Life Suits Me Well by Moroccan Al Hadi Ulad-Mohand. 

The Lost Daughter by Maggie Gyllenhaal, the best Screenplay titleholder at the Venice Film Festival, is also expected to participate with a synopsis of a college professor who comes face-to-face with her past during a vacation in Italy. Another major drama production includes The Colour Room, starring Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor as the ceramics artist Clarice Cliff.

International Spectacular

This time around, presenting fantasy-thriller Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is Ana Lilt Amirpour, set to play in the International Spectacular section. 

New Saudi Cinema

The New Saudi Cinema strand sheds light on 27 emerging Saudi artists, including Omar Naim’s new feature Route 10 and the omnibus film Quareer, a collection of five Saudi female narratives by Ragheed Al Nahdi Norah Almowald, Ruba Khafagy, Fatma Alhazmi, and Noor Alameer. 

Arab Spectacular

The Arab Spectacular special will showcase Memory Box, by directorial Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, and Casablanca Beats by the Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch.

Closing the ten-day festival will be light-hearted Egyptian ensemble drama Bara El Manhag by Amr Salama. Starring Maged El-Kidwani, Rubi and Asma Abul-Yazid, the film is centered around an orphan child who decides to break into a haunted house and befriends the ghost he finds inside.

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