Two Arab films win $500,000 grants from the Red Sea Lodge

Films from Saudi Arabia and Egypt were selected from 12 projects to receive the production grant

The 48-hour film challenge will take place this October, but films will be screened to an international jury in November. Red Sea International Film Festival
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Two works by Arab filmmakers have received production grants, worth $500,000 (Dh1.8m) each, from the Red Sea Lodge, a six-month development programme open to talent from Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.

Announced on Friday, September 25, Bullets and Bread (Egypt), by Mohammed Hammad, Kholoud Saad and Mohamed Hefzy, won the Arab project award and Sharshaf (Saudi Arabia), by Hind Alfahhad, Hana Alomair and Talal Ayel, won the Saudi Arabian project.

Bullets and Bread is based on a story by Tamer Abdrab Elnaby about a conscript called Yousef, who is serving compulsory military service on the eastern Egyptian desert border and dreams of becoming a writer. Awad is a bandit roaming the remote desert region who dreams of giving a better life to his family in Cairo. The two men's paths cross, leading to a friendship.

Set in 1978, Sharshaf tells the story of Haila, the daughter of a conservative Imam, who marries the son of a rich and well-known fabric stores owner. The young couple spend their honeymoon in Cairo. The romantic drama follows Haila as she gets to know what she wants through the magic of cinema and how this discovery is challenged due to extremism.

A third film, Four Acts of Disruption (Saudi Arabia) by Hussam AlHulwah and Mohammad Alhamoud, also received a $25,000 development grant.

The films were selected by a jury which consisted of Russian film producer Nadia Turincev, Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah and producer, commissioner and writer Meinolf Zurhorst.

The films were selected from 12 projects that had been shortlisted – six from Saudi Arabia, and the rest from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon.

The filmmakers had been working on their projects through residential programmes in Jeddah's Old Town since October 2019. The residency was designed for directors, producers and scriptwriters with projects in any stage of development.

For the last phase of the residency, filmmakers will take part in online meetings to prepare them to pitch their films to international co-production forum TorinoFilmLab in November. This was initially set to take place in March as part of the Red Sea International Film Festival. However, the festival and the events scheduled were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The residency will now resume as a digital event from Monday, October 19.