What the Saudi Film Commission is doing at Cannes this year

The authority will showcase new films as well as promote the country's unique filming locations

The Saudi Arabia pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Saudi Film Commission
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With a new crop of film talent and striking locations waiting to be utilised, the Saudi Film Commission is bringing together some key players from the country's creative sector to make a strong case at the Cannes Film Festival 2022.

Along with a delegation of young filmmakers who will present their latest works at the Short Film Corner, the Saudi Arabia pavilion will host a panel discussion, titled State of Arabia, at the Marche du Film, the Cannes film market.

Scroll through the gallery below to see the best photos from Cannes Film Festival's opening night

The panel will feature Saudi producer and director Aymen Khoja, Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy and Tunisian director Lotfy Nathan, who makes his feature debut with Harka, the recipient of the Red Sea International Film Festival's Red Sea Souk Award in December.

Harka will also be screened at the Un Certain Regard section, dedicated to up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world.

Film AlUla, the Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency, will also host a panel at the US pavilion, to introduce the country as a global film hub.

Over the past 18 months, Saudi Arabia has provided the backdrop for three major Hollywood films: Ric Roman Waugh’s coming action thriller Kandahar, starring Gerard Butler, and filmed in AlUla and Jeddah; Rupert Wyatt’s historical epic Desert Warrior, starring Anthony Mackie and Ben Kingsley, shot in the new city-state of Neom and the region of Tabuk, and set to be released later this year; and the Russo brothers’ crime drama Cherry, starring Tom Holland, which was shot in AlUla and Riyadh, now streaming on Apple TV+.

Under the Saudi Film Commission's production cash rebate system, projects shot in the country are eligible to get back up to 40 per cent of qualifying production costs.

The Saudi pavilion will also preview eight local feature films that have reached completion in the past year. These include Norah, written and directed by Tawfik Alzaidi, and Within Sand, directed by Moe Alatawi. Both films were recipients of a fund award at the Saudi Film Commission’s Daw’ Film Competition in 2019.

Saudi Arabia hosts two film festivals annually — the Saudi Film Festival, now in its eighth year, and the Red Sea International Film Festival, which was held for the first time in December.

Cannes Film Festival runs until May 28

Scroll through the gallery below to see photos from the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival

Updated: May 19, 2022, 11:59 AM
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