Saudi Arabia’s Film Commission launches strategy to develop film and cinema sector

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Saudi Arabia’s Film Commission launched a strategy on Sunday setting out key pillars and initiatives that will establish the Kingdom “as a world-class film hub with a target to build an industry with a revenue of $500 million,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The press agency reported that a new Saudi Film Institute will be launched, dedicated to film production and professional training in cinematic storytelling, and wider creative and technical skills, such as sound engineering and animation.

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The Saudi Film Commission will also establish a National Archive of Films through the collection, digitization and preservation of historical Saudi films and audiovisual content, while also preserving the equipment used.

SPA said an investment and awareness program to attract local and international film studios, private entities and suppliers will “strengthen the filmmaking value chain,” adding that an online one-stop-shop will be launched, where permits, licenses, visas and other requirements can be easily applied for.

“The Saudi film sector has gone from strength to strength with the emergence of the sector providing once-in-a-lifetime business opportunities and partnerships,” Saudi Film Commission CEO, Abdullah al-Qahtani, was quoted by SPA as saying.

“The strategy provides our roadmap to achieve our aspirations of making Saudi a global hub for film production and talent. The cinema industry in Saudi is one of the fastest growing in the Middle East, which is further evidence that the Saudi film sector is the emerging market to watch,” he added.

The commission’s strategy focuses on six areas: Ensuring a world-class talent pipeline and ensuring homegrown talent can compete with the best, creating a film sector that can compete in terms of services, offerings and incentives, boosting domestic film production, attracting further international production houses, embedding a regulatory framework that enhances the quick development of the sector, and promoting and distributing Saudi films in regional and international markets.

The strategy launch comes ahead of the Kingdom’s inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival (RedSeaIFF), which is set to run from December 6 until December 15 in Jeddah Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As the Kingdom’s first international film festival, RedSeaIFF is for “film lovers, filmmakers, and the global film industry,” according to organizers. They also announced that 27 films by Saudi film makers will be featured.

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