Saudi, Middle Eastern MBC Academy graduates shine at prestigious Cannes ceremony

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Students from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East graduated this week from MBC Academy, the educational and training platform by Saudi’s MBC Group that discovers, upskills, and fosters regional talent in the media and production space, in a ceremony held on the sidelines of the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival.

The 30 graduates – 15 acting students and 15 filmmaking students who have completed their intensive training in the heart of the film industry – were celebrated in a graduation ceremony held at the Université Côte d’Azur’s Campus Georges Méliès.

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The event included the screening of a year-in-review video, including BTS footage, showreels, adverts, and short films by the students, followed by speeches by various representatives. The event provided a unique opportunity for the students to network with media professionals from around the world.

Zeinab Abu Alsamh, CEO of MBC Academy, said: “We are absolutely delighted to celebrate our latest filmmaker’s scholarship students. These immensely talented individuals – studying either filmmaking or acting – have embraced the incredible opportunity to be present at the Cannes Film Festival 2024. Driven by their passion and dedication, I am confident that our graduates are making the most of this experience by forging connections and pursuing potential opportunities that could lead to exciting collaborations and successful projects in the future.”

She continued: “Here at MBC Academy, we are very proud of their accomplishments. Our latest programme wouldn’t have been complete without the support of our partners, ESRA and Generation 2030, who have both played a crucial role in nurturing these students, offering them top quality training, guidance, and project development and facilitation.

“This graduation ceremony served as a unique ‘home away from home’ hub where local, regional, and global creatives, producers, and filmmakers converged.”

MBC Academy was launched in 2020 to develop Saudi talent for the Kingdom’s fast-growing media industry. This latest cohort were selected from over 400 applicants across the Middle East and North Africa.

For the students, the intensive training at a leading European film school represented a huge opportunity to develop their skills.

MBC Academy’s partners for this latest round of graduates were ESRA (École Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle) and Generation 2030.

The program’s base at the Cannes campus of ESRA, a renowned 50-year-old French film school, gave the students access to world-class facilities and instruction.

ESRA Director Thierry Collard said: “It is a privilege for ESRA Côte d’Azur to have welcomed in Cannes, for the first time, 30 Saudi students in acting and film making.”

French organization Generation 2030 also collaborated on the scholarship program. The group aims to build cultural bridges between France and Saudi Arabia through training projects in various creative fields.

Generation 2030 Chairwoman Soha Alharbi, said: “We are delighted of the result of this unique programme, which trains the next generation of Saudi talents.”

Previous MBC Academy graduates are already making their mark in animation, filmmaking and other media careers.
Notable alumni so far include Reham Yashar, who is now a character creator at a game development company. Graduate Muzoon Albogomi authored a story animated by MBC ACADEMY for the “Hakawati Nation” show. Hussain Alqurrous is another graduate who is credited with creating “Do It”, a short animation film featured in several international film festivals.

“I am greatly optimistic that in a few years, we will see some of these students presenting their work themselves at the Cannes Film Festival,” said Abu Alsamh.

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