Saudi Film Festival opens its ninth event at Ithra Theatre

The film festival will welcome industry experts with a special screening of a short animated film

The Saudi Film Festival starts on Thursday and runs until May 11. Photo: Saudi Film Festival IG
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The Saudi Film Festival, which runs until May 11, will have its official opening ceremony on Thursday night at the Ithra Theatre in Dhahran.

Centred on the world of comedy, the festival features 78 film screenings from various genres, with a spotlight on films for children. For the first time in the festival’s history, eight titles will be also available to view through virtual reality devices.

Festival director, Ahmed Al Mulla, said that the theme of Comedy Cinema was chosen to bring attention to a genre that can entertain and surprise audiences while also delivering powerful and meaningful messages.

Organised by the Cinema Society in partnership with King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture (Ithra) and with the support of the Film Authority in the Ministry of Culture, the opening ceremony roll out the red carpet for a screening of Saudi filmmaker Afnan Bawyan's opening animated short film Saleeg.

Al Mulla said the extended partnership between the Cinema Society and Ithra will help empower the region's filmmaking talent from various disciplines.

The festival will also include a series of cultural seminars, book signings, training workshops and masterclasses from industry experts.

These include Tips and Strategies in Film Marketing, where guests can learn about the importance of marketing their own projects with journalist Nina Rothe, as well as an Introduction to the World of Cinematic Visual Effects Production — where visual effects producer Shadi Abu will discuss modern techniques in visual effects production.

Other workshops include co-producting documentaries, transforming inspiration into reality and strategic PR and distribution in the industry.

There are also nine competitions running over the course of the festival, in categories including Documentary Competition, Short Narrative Competition, Feature Narrative Competition, Production Market Awards, an Unexecuted Script Competition and special prizes. Prizes will be awarded during the festival's closing ceremony.

More information about the festival is at

Updated: September 21, 2023, 7:03 AM