Organizers unveil lineup for Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah

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The lineup for Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival has been announced, with legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone due to lead the judging panel.

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Indian director Shekhar Kapur’s ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?’ will be screened for the opening night gala of the festival, which runs from December 1 to 10.

Closing the festival will be Valley Road, directed by award-winning Saudi writer and director Khaled Fahd and starring Hamad Farhan, Naif Khalaf, and Aseel Omran.

The festival will feature 131 films and shorts from 61 countries in 41 languages from both established and emerging talent.

Local talent will be on display, with seven new Saudi features and 18 Saudi short films to be presented.

The festival will also host 34 world premieres, 17 Arab premieres, and 47 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) premieres.

The Red Sea Competition will showcase up-and-coming talent from across the Arab world, Africa, and Asia.

Winners in each category will be announced on December 8, with ‘Scarface’ creator Oliver Stone leading the judging.

As well as the competition, there will be red carpet galas, outdoor screenings, and special presentations.

The festival will include a ‘Red Sea Souk’ – an industry platform intended to foster cooperation and allow aspiring filmmakers to network.

Opening film ‘What’s Love Got to do With It?’ stars Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Sajal Aly, Asim Chaudhry, and Academy Award winner Emma Thompson, and tells the story of a white British woman who falls in love with a South Asian man.

The romantic comedy was written by Jemima Goldsmith, the British ex-wife of former Pakistan Prime Minister and cricketer Imran Khan.

‘Valley Road,’ which will close the festival, follows Ali, perceived by the people of his village as having a disability, and his older sister, who recognizes that his difference is an essential part of him.

“The Red Sea International Film Festival is cementing its position as a unique and powerful platform for celebrating film, connecting cultures, and expanding our horizons…” said Mohammed al-Turki, CEO of the festival, in a statement.

“Our programmers have curated the best of Arab and international cinema, talent led galas of some of the most anticipated films of the year, and an exceptional selection from astonishing new Saudi talents who are paving the way in our country’s flourishing industry.”

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