Red Sea Film Festival unveils eclectic shorts line-up spanning satire, drama and fantasy

Fourteen African and Asian directors to compete at 10-day Jeddah showcase

In Eid Mubarak, a young girl tries to save a goat that is destined for slaughter for Eid Al Adha. Photo: Red Sea International Film Festival
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From black comedies and satire to gripping dramas and fantasy, films from Asia and Africa are set to dominate this year’s Red Sea International Film Festival.

Fourteen emerging and established directors will compete in the short film category. The event, which will be held in Jeddah between November 30 and December 9, tees up both continents as "the future" of cinema.

The films present a diverse set of narratives and were curated to reflect this year’s theme: Your Story Your Festival. They will all be marking their regional or world premieres.

“We were overwhelmed by the record number of applications for our short film competition from filmmakers from Africa and Asia, working across the globe,” Kaleem Aftab, director of the festival’s international programming, said.

“It was hard to whittle the number down to the 14 filmmakers we believe will become the next generation of great auteurs. We can't wait to welcome them to Jeddah to showcase their work and be a part of the global film community gathering during Red Sea IFF. We are more certain than ever that the future of film is in Asia and Africa, including the Arab world."

Here are the 14 picked.

Titanic, Suitable for Iranian Families

Titanic, Suitable for Iranian Families is a black comedy that takes on Iranian cinema censorship laws. The short film follows a group of cinema censors as they grapple with new confusing regulations about what is deemed acceptable to show on screen. Directed by Farnoosh Samadi, the film was nominated for the IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Late Wind

The Late Wind, by Shugyla Serzhan, follows a young Kazakh woman who discovers she is pregnant just as protests begin erupting in her city. Her boyfriend then disappears, leaving her uncertain about her future.

The Wait

In The Wait, a young man named Mzu walks into a Cape Town police station to report a crime and meets a pensioner, Fareed, who has been waiting in line for an exceptionally long time. Mzu takes on the task of helping Fareed and soon becomes embroiled in a gripping drama. The film has been labelled an allegory reflecting on social issues within South Africa. It is directed by Imran Hamdulay.


A female-led drama by Hira Yousafzai, Solatia revolves around Zamda, a young woman living in a shelter in Pakistan alongside other displaced people. Unable to extricate herself from despair, she spends her time looking through photos of missing loved ones.


In Yaa, three Ghanaian women awake in a strange land. Representing three generations, they strive to find meaning in a film that reflects on the historical and social dynamics of Ghana. The film is directed by Amartei Armar.

Primetime Mother

A stirring satire by Filipino director Sonny Calvento, Primetime Mother is set during the auditions of an exploitative gameshow that puts a mother’s resilience to the test. The film is a scathing critique of reality television culture and muddies the divide between fact and fiction. The film was also in the running for Tiff’s IMDbPro Short Cuts Award as well as the Live Action Short Film Award at the AFI Fest.


A film that brings together the real and fantastical, Dusk is set in Senegal’s Dakar market. The name refers to the phenomenon within the film where the spirit world wakes up as the sun sets. In the midst, Binta, a young girl seeks to prove to the other children that she has the bravery to venture into the market, where the lone, mythical figure of Pa Kong-Kong emerges. The film is directed by Awa Moctar Gueye.

The Courier

The Courier, by Armenian director Tigran Agavelyan, tells the story of a courier named Aziz who urgently needs to come up with the funds to help pay for his wife’s treatment. As she hangs between the balance of life and death, Aziz reckons with what lines he’s willing to cross to save his wife.


Suitcase, directed by Saman Hosseinpuor and Ako Zandkarimi, revolves around a Kurdish refugee who lives out of his suitcase. Far from his homeland, he keeps memories of his family in the bag. As turmoil grips the city he is currently in, his suitcase is stolen, and the refugee loses his home for the second time.

Terra Mater – Mother Land

A film by Swiss-Rwandan director Kantarama Gahigiri, Terra Mater – Mother Land reflects on the price of globalisation, waste excess and heritage. The film has been nominated for a handful of awards across the world, including the Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival, and the Best Experimental Short Film at the Guanajuato International Film Festival.

Eid Mubarak

In Eid Mubarak, directed by Mahnoor Euceph, a young Pakistani girl goes to buy a goat for Eid Al Adha with her family. She picks what she deems is the cutest one and names it Barfi. She then begins concocting a plan to save Barfi from slaughter.

In Between

Saudi director Ethar Baamer's film In Between tells the story of a woman in her twenties who feels stifled by societal expectations telling her how to live her life. She takes measures to break free, embarking on a journey of self-realisation.

Accidentally Intentional

In the Indonesian film Accidentally Intentional, director Kevin Rahardjo tells the story of a 16-year-old whose phone unknowingly connects to the Bluetooth in his mother’s car as he’s watching improper films. He is then punished by his parents as he’s told to repent while never being offered an explanation.

The Suitcase

Directed by Numan Acar, The Suitcase follows Ali and his 21-year-old daughter Hazal, as they fly from Berlin to the snowy, mountainous landscape in Turkey’s Kurdish region. There, they meet their elderly family member, Keke, who is gravely ill. The father and daughter learn that Keke’s last wish is to be buried with her suitcase, an emblem of the tragedy their family faced.

Updated: November 29, 2023, 7:46 AM