The Red Sea International Film Festival, the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, invited budding filmmakers to compete for production grants. The two competitions, worth USD 500,000 each, are called the Tamheed Fund, and they aim provide financial support and encouragement to the kingdom’s filmmaking scene. The two winners of the prestigious award were announced this week.
The two emerging Saudi filmmakers to receive the grant are Mohammed Alholayyil and Faris Godus, who’s work will premiere at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia. There were 24 submissions and Faris Godus’s submission, The Book of Sun and Alholayyil’s Forty Years and a Night were hand selected by the festival’s panel.
Forty Years and a Night’s story centered around a family who gather on Eid Al Fitr, and unfolds a drama of secrets that have soured relationships and threatened family ties. The Book of Sun, on the other hand, tells the tale of a teenager, Hussam, who is inspired by the new age of Saudi YouTube talent and risks his educational achievements to create a budget-less feature film.
Faris Godus is no lone ranger, as he works with his brother Sohayb, as producer. The brothers are revered for their teamwork on their YouTube projects and have made a film in 2016 entitled, Depressing Scene, as well as taken part in a Saudi TV series during Ramadan 2019, called Another Planet. Mohammed Alholayyil’s film festival submission wouldn’t have been his film debut as he has made a number of films that have screened at Arab and regional festivals, with titles including, 300KM and Mator.
The Tamheed Fund welcomed submissions of every genre, as a representative of the organization stated, “The projects covered diverse geographic and social environments, from major cities to villages and deserts. A range of schools and approaches were represented, including realism, neorealism, psychodrama, sci-fi, and fantasy, with one animation project.”
Saudi Arabia’s first ever film festival is expected to host a development program and mentorship, Red Sea Lodge, as well as a film project spearheaded by Saudi female directors. The Red Sea International Film Festival will be taking place in Jeddah, where films and filmmakers from the Arab world and international waters will be highlighted, from the 12th to 21st of March 2020.