Saudi Film Festival kicks off sixth edition virtually, to stream 54 films

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The sixth edition of the Saudi Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday virtually this year amid the circumstances surrounding the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to organizers.

This year’s film festival will see 54 films streamed online to audiences with the aim of supporting emerging filmmakers and promoting a growing film appreciation and culture across Saudi Arabia.

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The film festival is set to run from September-16 and is being organized by the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran in partnership with the Culture and Arts Association and is supported by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture’s Film Commission.

A total of 54 films are participating in this year’s online edition and will compete across four competitions.

“We were debating whether to host the film festival this year or not given the circumstances with the coronavirus pandemic but after speaking with participants and filmmakers, we were encouraged to go virtual. We also took our cue from other major film festivals that went online and believed we could host a successful film festival virtually this year,” Ahmed al-Shayeb, the technical director of the Saudi Film Festival, told Al Arabiya.

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The festival will include four main competitions, namely in the categories of: Fictional Film Competition, Documentary Film Competition, Student Film Competition, and Unproduced screenplay Competition.

“The festival's organizing committee stressed its awareness of the importance of showing films in cinemas among movie lovers and the public, explaining that the decision to broadcast the festival digitally via the Internet came after studying the current conditions and the precautionary restrictions associated with them that may not allow many to attend the festival’s activities and benefit from its programs,” organizers said in a statement.

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