Plot twist for students at Saudi Arabia’s first cinema school

Saudi women study film making at a university in Jeddah. (Reuters)

Student Sama Kinsara adjusts her camera at Saudi Arabia’s only cinema school, her dream of seeing her work on the big screen coming into focus after the lifting of the country’s 35-year ban on cinema.

“Everything is about to change,” the first-year student of “visual and digital production” at Effat University in Jeddah told Reuters.

Her course is to be renamed “cinematic arts”.

Kinsara and her classmates on the four-year, women-only course have been able to film outside the university grounds for the first time.

“A girl carrying a camera and shooting in the streets is pushing boundaries,” said Mohamed Ghazala, head of Effat’s Visual and Digital Production Department, which began the course in 2013.

Authorities hope that by opening 300 cinemas and building a film industry, more than $24 billion can be added to the economy and 30,000 jobs created.

Cinema is one of several new avenues for Saudi women, who can now attend soccer matches, take part in sport, and in a few months will be allowed to drive cars.

For film student Qurratulain Waheb, the chance to get off the university campus and film with her classmates is welcomed.

“Before, there was a problem if we had a camera in the malls, we were not allowed to enter the malls but things are getting smoother now when we have access,” she said.

“When we have permissions it gets easier, it gets better and people are more accepting. They want to see what we’re doing.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 14 March 2018 KSA 09:35 - GMT 06:35

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