Twelve Arab projects have been selected for development at the Red Sea Lodge 2021, the Red Sea Film Festival announced.
Six of the projects are from Saudi Arabia while the rest come from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon.
Half of the projects are directed by women including Saudi director Dalyah Bakheet’s The Photographer Of Madina, based on the true story of a female photographer who opened the first studio for women in Saudia Arabia, and Jordanian filmmaker Zain Duraie’s The Sea Needs to Heave, about a woman whose gifted teenage son develops psychological problems.
The 12 filmmaking teams will gather virtually four times, then come together in person in Jeddah for the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival. Half of the projects feature women in the roles of directors and producers.
The teams will pitch their vision to international production companies, with two lucky teams being granted $100,000 by an independent jury of experts. The winning movies will premiere at the festival, which is scheduled to take place in 2022.
In addition to securing funds, the winning teams will also get the chance to learn firsthand from professionals in the field.
The project selection committee comprised TorinoFilmLab executive director Savina Neirotti, TorinoFilmLab head of industry Jane Williams as well as members of the Red Sea team: Antoine Khalife, director of the Arab program; Kaleem Aftab, director of international programming, and former Cannes Directors’ Fortnight artistic director Edouard Waintrop, who is an advisor to the festival.
This program will include workshops by expert tutors and international film professionals to further develop the 12 projects.
The projects cover genres and topics including fantasy, self-discovery, biopics, romance, mental health, family and more.
Some of the stories explore major moments of social transformation, like early oil speculation, and the expansion of the Mongol empire
The committee that selected the 12 teams are industry experts. They include TorinoFilmLab executive director, Savina Neirotti, the festival’s Arab program director Antoine Khalife, its director of international programming Kaleem Aftab, and adviser Edouard Waintrop
It was supported by a team of readers, including film producer and director Faisal Alharbi, and film producer and script consultant Deema Azar.
List of projects (loglines provided by the Red Sea International Film Festival)
Dir/scr: Abduljalil Al-nasser
Prod: Ayman Jamal
Set in the 1940s, amid the vast deserts of the newly established Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Batla finds herself in a tense conflict with the men of her tribe after her husband goes missing.
Dir: Jowaher Alamri
Scr: Jowaher Alamri and Jude Elmasoud
Prod: Mohammed Sendi
Trapped in a marriage to a toxic narrow-minded man, a desperate wife decides to leave their crippling relationship, leading both to go on life-changing journeys.
Raoya – The Bookkeeper
Dir: Mahmoud Zaini
Scr: Ieva Radina
Prod: Omar Mugeem
It’s the 12th century, and the Mongol empire is expanding across the world. During the siege of Baghdad, a young girl finds herself trapped in a strange world inhabited by flightless birds.
The Photographer of Madina
Dir: Dalyah Bakheet
Scr: Afnan Bawyan
Prod: Saleem Homsi
Based on the true story of Khadija, a female photographer from Medina who opens a studio for women, the first in Saudi Arabia.
Dir: Moe Alatawi
Scr: Moe Alatawi
Prod: Mohammad Alghamdi
Snam, a 23-year-old tobacco merchant, is ambushed by thieves in the desert, leaving him with only a dagger. He encounters a lone wolf on his desperate search for a way home.
Dir: Abrar Abdulaziz
Scr: Bashayer Abdulaziz
Prod: Bakr Alduhaim
In 1938, at the port of Jeddah, three generations of women journey towards Mekkah, much to their Afghani family’s chagrin.
The Zarqa Girl (Jordan)
Dir: Zaid Abu Hamdan
Scr: Zaid Abu Hamdan
Prod: Ahmad Abu Koush
In Zarqa, Jordan, an abandoned girl grows up to become the biggest and most feared thug in the city. Based on a true story.
Seeking Haven for Mr. Rambo (Egypt)
Dir: Khaled Mansour
Scr: Mohamed El-Hosseiny
Prod: Rasha Hosny
30-year-old Hassan lives with his mother and Rambo, his dog and only friend, in an old and impoverished Cairo district. After a neighbour proposes a dogfight, Hassan must flee with his trusted companion.
The Sea Needs to Heave (Jordan)
Dir: Zain Duraie
Scr: Zain Duraie
Prod: Alaa Alasad
Nadia has a special bond with her eldest son Basil, a 17-year-old genius. However, Nadia ignores the warning signs of a mental health problem when Basil begins to behave erratically.
The Day Of Wrath: Tales from Tripoli (Lebanon)
Dir: Rania Rafei
Scr: Rania Rafei
Prod: Jinane Dagher
A hybrid-documentary recreating five uprisings from different periods in history. A portrait of Tripoli through its collective desire for change.
Road 250 (Kuwait)
Dir: Haya Alghanim
Scr: Haya Alghanim
Prod: Nadia Ahmad
After years of living abroad, Dima, the daughter of a diplomat, returns to Kuwait, where she has to adapt to her new surroundings and classmates in an all-girls school.
It’s a Sad And Beautiful World (Lebanon)
Dir: Cyril Aris
Scr: Cyril Aris
Prod: Georg Neubert
Lebanese couple Nino and Soraya seemed destined to live happily-ever-despite the harsh world around them. But things go awry after Soraya unexpected falls pregnant.