In a significant moment for Saudi Arabia's developing film industry, Jeddah's Hayy Cinema recently hosted a special event called "Aflamna," which translates to "our films," in partnership with Cineways, driven by NEOM. During this single-day event, participants had the opportunity to view two short Saudi films and interact with the directors. This event not only acknowledged Hayy Cinema as Saudi Arabia's inaugural independent movie theater but also highlighted the presence of local talent.
"Lucky You're Mine," directed by Nora Abu Shusha, portrays the challenging journey of Ahmad and Salma, newlyweds whose marriage is strained when Salma suffers a bipolar disorder after a tragedy. Ahmad's unwavering support is tested as their communication struggles jeopardize their marriage's future.
Abu Shusha, known for examining human interactions through a mix of drama and comedy, has a close association with Hayy Cinema and commended its vibrant activities and talented individuals. She also mentioned its quality on par with some of the best existing centers.
Another film featured at Aflamna was "Sukoon: Addiction of Silence," produced and co-directed by Ahsan Minhas and Marwan Bakri, both of whom have previously created successful films. Minhas expressed the value of showcasing "Sukoon" in Saudi Arabia, emphasizing the personal and enduring quality of the tale. Looking ahead, Minhas shared plans for more projects, including a proof of concept that takes a different societal perspective, blending international and local stories to push Saudi cinema in a new direction.
Zohra Ait El-Jamar, senior manager of Hayy Cinema, explained that Aflamna serves as an initiative to showcase relatable stories and support the development of Saudi Arabia's film industry. The program empowers emerging filmmakers to showcase their work, boost their visibility, and fosters collaboration and idea exchange among creative individuals.
Hayy Cinema's autumn program focuses on local productions and offers access to international independent films, contributing to the growth of the Saudi film industry and providing diverse cinematic experiences for audiences.
Cineways plays a vital role in nurturing up-and-coming filmmakers by providing extensive courses and seminars. By bridging the gap between domestic creativity and global standards, Cineways, in association with NEOM and the Saudi Film Commission, aspires to raise Saudi talent to international standards, thus encouraging budding directors and advancing the Saudi film industry overall.