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Saudi Arabia Unveils $100 Million Film Fund At Cannes Film Festival

In a historic move aimed at nurturing the local film and media industry, Saudi Arabia's Cultural Development Fund (CDF) has announced the launch of a groundbreaking $100 million film sector fund at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Film Investment Fund, which is the first of its kind, is a joint venture between the CDF, MEFIC Capital, and holding company ROAA Media Ventures. It aims to stimulate the growth of film and media by providing funding for development, production, distribution, and talent development.

Najla AlNomair, the Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer of the Cultural Development Fund, told a media outlet, “Through the Film Investment Program we launched today, Saudi Cultural Development Fund aims to enable the financial sector to participate in the growth of the film sector and help financial institutions to be able to provide financing to areas which they had not considered before.”

Redha Alhaidar, Chairman of ROAA Media Ventures, also emphasized the importance of addressing the three main challenges hindering the industry's progress: limited access to financial resources and international partnerships, infrastructure constraints, and talent shortages. She said, “Saudi Arabia’s media and entertainment sector is rapidly evolving and plays an important part in the Kingdom’s cultural and economic transformation.” She continued, “There is a wealth of untapped creative talent in Saudi Arabia and across the wider Middle East. By investing in local film projects, skills development and industry infrastructure, we can help unleash the region’s storytelling potential and support the creation of authentic, high-quality content that attracts international investment and competes on the global stage.”

The CDF has been dedicated to supporting creative initiatives since its establishment and has implemented various programs to empower talent. Earlier this year, the fund launched a film sector financing program with a budget of $234 million. AlNomair expressed confidence in the Saudi film industry's potential and stressed that Saudi Arabia possesses abundant funding, local talent, stunning shooting locations, and supportive incentives, both financial and non-financial. The country boasts a cinema box office estimated to reach $950 million by 2030.

The panel discussion held at Cannes shed light on the burgeoning industry and the prerequisites for establishing a competitive environment. The annual Red Sea International Film Festival, a key event in Saudi Arabia, has garnered global attention by financially supporting international productions, including this year's Cannes Film Festival opener, "Jeanne du Barry." Additionally, NEOM Media Village and Film AlUla's production studios provide facilities and crews for international projects, attracting Hollywood productions to the region's unique landscape.

The announcement of the fund is a significant milestone for the Saudi film sector, and extends an invitation to the global industry to join in the endeavor of developing the Saudi film industry. The inauguration of the Film Investment Fund is an open invitation to filmmakers and industry professionals worldwide to collaborate and participate in shaping the future of Saudi cinema.

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