Saudi Arabia’s cinema industry reforms are a “historical event,” international film producer Tarak Ben Ammar told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.
The Kingdom has undergone a dramatic transformation in its entertainment sector in recent years to open up the industry. In 2018, it opened its first cinema after a 37-year ban, and Saudi Arabian-made films have begun to appear in international outlets, with Netflix recently announcing it would stream six award-winning Saudi films later this month.
“I'm very happy, and I will do everything to help them because the youth want to learn their stories. They want to be entertained. They want to be emotional about the culture and proud about who they are,” Ammar, who has worked on iconic films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Femme Fatale, and Monty Python’s Life of Brian, said.
Ammar noted that it is “quite exciting” to be an Arab filmmaker since Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to film. “Arab filmmakers can now talk to their people and make a success in their own country, Saudi Arabia, the GCC, and the Arab world so that we don't have to be beggars of having to export our culture,” he said.
On Tuesday, Alireza Zaimi, an executive director and head of corporate finance at the Public Investment Fund, a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, noted that the Saudi Arabian cinema industry has a potential valuation of around $1 billion.
Earlier this week, South Korean film Parasite swept three Oscars and was the first non-English language movie to win the best picture award. The film’s win has other foreign-language filmmakers questioning what might be the next movie destined for international recognition.
“You know how many bad English, French, American, and Italian movies are made? Many, many, many, and sometimes a gem comes out. Maybe one day we'll have an Arab Parasite,” Ammar concluded.SHOW MORE