Film AlUla makes its debut at Cannes Film Festival to promote Saudi site as movie location

The newly established agency is introducing the kingdom's heritage site as a potential shooting location for big-budget productions

(FILES) This file photo taken on February 11, 2019, shows an aerial view of the Elephant rock in the Ula desert near the northwestern Saudi town of al-Ula. Saudi Arabia said on September 27, 2019 it will offer tourist visas for the first time, opening up the ultra-conservative kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil. Kickstarting tourism is one of the centrepieces of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform programme to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post-oil era.

 / AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE

Representatives from Al Ula’s newly established film agency arrived at Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday for the event’s opening day.

Film AlUla is attending the prestigious festival for the first time, to promote international film and TV production in the historic Al Ula region in the north-west of Saudi Arabia.

The agency, which launched earlier this year at the Berlinale, also announced its new facilities, which can house up to 150 film crew, and include production offices, an outdoor cinema and recreational facilities.

The first phase of construction is under way, with accommodation set to be available on site by the end of 2021.

Film AlUla will present its facilities to filmmakers at the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival, which began on Tuesday in the south of France.

The agency says its objective at the festival is to connect the international film industry with the Al Ula region, and showcase it as a “truly unique and exciting film destination”.

With its rocky terrain and untouched landscapes, which have never before appeared on the big screen, Al Ula is already becoming an attractive filming location for local productions and documentary makers.

Earlier this year, the Discovery Channel made a one-off documentary, entitled The Architects of Ancient Arabia, which offered a behind-the-scenes look at a group of architects who were trying to piece together the site’s 3,000-year history, and unlock its past secrets.

Local Saudi production Noura, directed by Tawfiq Al Zaidi and partly financed by the Film Commission at the Ministry of Culture, will also shoot some scenes in Al Ula.

Cannes Film Festival officially opened on Tuesday evening, with the premiere of Leos Carax’s Annette, starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver.

The festival will run until Saturday, July 17.

Updated: July 7th 2021, 6:44 AM
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