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The Women Who Stole The Show At The Red Sea Film Festival

At the opening night of the first ever Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, the Saudi city saw a red carpet featuring both international and local talent in the film industry.

Among those stars, three women were honored for their contributions to cinema: Saudi film maker Haifa Al Mansour, Egyptian actress Laila Eloui, and renowned French actress Catherine Deneuve all took home awards for their efforts.

Haifa Al Mansour is recognized as being the first ever female Saudi film director, and a highly acclaimed one at that. In 2012, she won a plethora of awards, including a nomination for an Academy Award for her film “Wajda,” and was honored once again at the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival. She said in her award acceptance speech, “It is always an honor to have your work recognized by the film industry. I am particularly grateful for this honor and the opportunity to be part of this larger celebration of the contribution of women to cinema.” Hoping to inspire the younger generations of women in the kingdom and beyond she added, “I hope my work can help inspire young women to chart their own careers in this industry and I hope this recognition of the contribution of women in cinema in general will continue to underline the importance of having a strong female presence both in front of and behind the camera.”

Upon receiving her award, the 78-year-old French actress stated, “I am very happy and proud to be here this evening, to have been invited to the first edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival.”

Deneuve’s career has spanned over 60 years as she first made her foray into the world of film in 1957 when she played a small role in Andre Hunebelle’s “Les Collegiennes.” She went on to later star in films that turned her into an international star including “Belle de Jour,” “8 Women,” “Repulsion,” “Dancer in the Dark” and “Indochine.”

Celebrating the role of women within the international film industry, 59-year-old Egyptian actor Laila Eloui who has featured in over 70 films was also recognized for her work within the film fraternity.

It wasn’t just women who were noted for their work, president of the Arab World Institute and long-time supporter of the arts and culture, Jack Lang was also awarded at the opening ceremony as he said in a statement of the Saudi film industry, “I am personally impressed by this beautiful young Saudi cinema and its inspiring directors. Long live the Red Sea International Film Festival, which will become one of the best film festivals in the world.”

The Red Sea International Film Festival will come to an end on December 15th 2021 and is screening 138 films from 67 countries in 34 languages. 

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