Organizers of the delayed first edition of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival (RSFF) are inviting movie submissions for the event’s launch later this year.
Set to take place in Jeddah’s historic downtown Al-Balad area – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – from Nov. 11 to 20 the festival, titled “Metamorphosis,” will bring together local filmmakers, movie enthusiasts, and international industry leaders.
Entrants will be able to participate in competition, shorts competition, new Saudi/new cinema, and tajreeb categories alongside seven curated sections namely international spectacular, Arab spectacular, festival favorites, immersive future, treasures, next generation, and episodic.
The new Saudi/new cinema category will focus on new filmmakers and artists from the Kingdom releasing arthouse features, shorts, and documentaries primed for launch on the international circuit.
Tajreeb, a program for innovators, will showcase experimental films from Saudis pushing the limits with form and content, and finding new ways to tell stories.
Eleven program classes will feature contemporary international and Arab cinema, Saudi features, shorts, and experimental films, retrospectives, and future-oriented augmented reality and virtual reality experiences.
Films in the competition category will vie for the Yusr Awards, chosen by an international jury, and the Red Sea Golden Yusr award for the best movie in competition will receive $100,000.
Cash prizes will also be given for best director ($30,000), the Red Sea Silver Yusr jury prize ($20,000), the Golden Yusr for best short film ($25,000), audience award, and best Saudi flick. Other prizes will go to best screenplay, actor, actress, and cinematic contribution.
Earlier this year, the RSFF announced a team of Saudi and international curators, film specialists, and industry veterans for the event, including festival managing director, Shivani Pandya, and director of Arab programs and film classics, Antoine Khalife, both formerly of the Dubai International Film Festival.
Critic Kaleem Aftab has joined the RSFF as director of international programming while Jumana Zahid leads the Red Sea Lodge, the festival’s incubator for Saudi and Arab filmmakers.
The RSFF’s souk manager, Zain Zedan, will head the festival’s industry platform for distributors and sales agents, and the senior team is completed by Ibrahim Modir, who will front shared services.
The festival had originally been slated to debut on March 12 last year but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. It was instead declared a “label edition” and a series of challenges, virtual workshops, and programs have taken place in the interim.
November’s inaugural event is set to provide a new platform to strengthen creative connections between Saudis and the world with a program of the best in global cinema, classic and contemporary Arab film, and professional and industry strands.