Festival director Mahmoud Sabbagh and artistic director Hussain Currimbhoy revealed that a total of 107 features and shorts will screen at the festival.The selection includes 16 films in-competition, seven out-of-competition titles, 15 retrospectives and classic works, five immersive/VR experiences, 11 pictures in new Saudi/new cinema, 13 titles in the shorts competition, and 23 best of the year films.
The competition selection this year includes themes such as the advancement of women's rights, the scourge of domestic violence, as well as immigration, a statement said.Participating countries in this year’s competition include Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Columbia, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Spain and United States.
"It's pleasing that we are bringing these great quality films discussing social issues of the day, said Sabbagh. "We have a strong desire to push diversity, particularly in women's position in public spaces, and for a more open society. The films present a strong look at what makes society function and the relationship between the individual to patriarchy and hegemony."Festival attendees will get a chance to encounter installations at Red Sea's 'immersive cinema'. Commissions by dynamic digital artists will embrace Jeddah Old Town with sound installations, holographic experiences, and two-channel experiments.
Inaugurating the first edition of the Festival is the newly built Coral Theatre with a 1,200 seat capacity which also includes four more theatres, one with 240 seats and the remaining three with 120 seats.A series of industry panels titled "Perspectives" will bring together filmmakers from around the world to explore trends, ideas and issues shaping the industry. These discussions will touch upon the animation industry, the new Saudi independent film scene, Arab international cinema, exploring European/Saudi co-productions and finally, the future for Arab film production.
Sabbagh added: "We worked hard to ensure that the films being presented showcase Saudi Arabia's emerging film industry, and encourage a more open cultural exchange. This isn't just about exporting our stories; we are bringing different perspectives, new conversations into Saudi Arabia too."At this year's Festival, there will be cash awards totalling $250,000 for films in competition.