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KSA Makes Historic Impact At Cannes With Five Films Backed By Red Sea Film Fund

Saudi Arabia's emerging film industry will be in the spotlight at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival with five films backed by the country's Red Sea Film Fund, marking a historical collection of titles. The selection features the first-ever Sudanese film to be selected for Cannes and a mix of innovative efforts from both newcomers and accomplished directors in the Arab world. “Four Daughters” by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania is one of the films. Ben Hania's film tells the story of Olfa, a Tunisian mother of four daughters, two of whom mysteriously disappear. The plot chronicles ten years of Olfa's life from 2010 to 2020, revealing that the two missing teenagers have been radicalized and have joined Daesh in Libya. Hend Sabri, Nour Karoui, and Ichraq Matar, some of the Arab world's most prominent stars, play characters in the film. “Four Daughters” is a hybrid of fiction and documentary and is set to become Ben Hania's most noted works, evoking memories of iconic Middle Eastern films like Abbas Kiarostami's “Close-Up.”

“Banel & Adama” by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a debut director from Senegal, has also been selected for competition in the prestigious Palme d'Or category. The film tells the story of a young couple in a remote village in northern Senegal whose romance is put in jeopardy when the village council objects to their pairing, causing chaos in the whole village. The film is a tragedy that focuses more on Banel than Adama, turning into a story of a woman trying to fulfill herself, according to Sy. The young filmmaker is excited to show her film to the biggest names in the business, despite being up against established directors such as Wim Wenders, Ken Loach, Hirokazu Kore-eda, and Wes Anderson.

“Goodbye Julia” by Mohamed Kordofani, Sudan's debut feature, was also selected for Cannes. The film follows two women, one from the north and the other from the south of Sudan. The retired singer, Julia, is filled with guilt for causing a man's death, while the other woman is the man's widow. Julia offers the widow, who is unaware of her involvement in her late husband's death, a job as her maid as a way to atone for her misdeeds. The film is set before Sudan was split into two countries in 2011 and is set against the backdrop of a painful divide in the capital city of Khartoum.

Moroccan filmmaker Kamal Lazraq's film, entitled “Les Meutes,” was also selected for Cannes. The film conveys the story of two hounds who form an unexpected friendship as they wander the streets of Morocco in search of food. The film is a metaphor for contemporary society, where people are constantly searching for meaning, even as they are lost in the search.

These films are just some examples of the impact of Saudi Arabia's growing film industry on the world stage. The Kingdom's Red Sea Film Fund is paving the way for regional filmmakers to tell stories that resonate with audiences worldwide. The selection of these films at Cannes confirms the Kingdom's commitment to supporting artistic creativity and elevating the status of the film industry in the Arab world.

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