Fourteen Arabic-language feature films are set to receive production and post-production support from the Red Sea Fund, a $14 million initiative launched by Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Film Festival.
The films, which include works of fiction as well as documentaries, hail from Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
The selection was announced during the ongoing Venice Film Festival, where the Red Sea Film Festival and figures from Saudi Arabia's film industry have a notable presence.
Two of the fund’s recipients are already on the international festival circuit.
The Sea Ahead by Lebanese filmmaker and Short Film Palme d’Or winner Ely Dagher was presented at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, while Jordanian director Darin J Sallam is set to premiere her first feature, Farha, at the coming Toronto International Film Festival.
Other films that have made the selection include Communion by Nejib Belkadhi; Take Me to the Cinema by Albaqer Jaafar; Soula by Salah Issaad; Quareer by Ragheed Al Nahdi, Norah Almowald, Ruba Khafagy, Fatma Alhazmi and Noor Alameer; Life Suits Me Well by Al Hadi Ulad-Mohand; Recovery by Rashid Masharawi; Route 10 by Omar Naim; Basma by Fatima Al-Banawi; I Am Arze by Mira Shaib; Inshallah A Boy by Amjad Al-Rasheed; The Arabic Interpreter by Ali Kareem Obaid; and The Wind Also Sings by Hadi Ghandour.
The 14 films mark the first round of selections for this year’s funding programme. More than 650 projects were submitted for funding consideration.
The fund was initially announced as a $10 million pot in June. However, that sum was increased to $14 million during the Cannes Film Festival in July.
The Red Sea Fund aims to support 100 film and TV projects in its inaugural year. More of the fund’s recipients will be revealed in December, when the Red Sea Film Festival is scheduled to take place in Jeddah.
“Arab cinema continues to captivate audiences around the world with unique and authentic stories that showcase the extraordinary creative talent who bring to life the region’s rich cultural tapestry,” said Edouard Waintrop, newly appointed director of the Red Sea International Film Festival.
“Supporting films out of the traditional cycle gives us the means to develop and nurture Arab talent throughout the year and fund even more compelling projects.”