Funded by the Red Sea International Film Festival, the film furthers the Festival’s commitment to daring new work by Saudi auteurs, supporting women in the creative industries with roles in all stages of production.
13 January 2020, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia | The Red Sea International Film Festival introduces the five women directors brought together for a major new anthology film. ‘Untitled Omnibus Feature’ is produced and funded by the Red Sea International Film Festival, and produced by Jeddah-based production house Cinepoetics Pictures.
The project is a major platform for Saudi women in the film industry and is set to debut at the inaugural Festival in March 2020. The Saudi directors creating the project’s five short films are Hind Alfahhad, Jowaher Alamri, Noor Alameer, Sara Mesfer, and Fatima Al-Banawi. Award-winning Palestinian filmmaker Suha Arraf is screenwriting supervisor on the portmanteau film.
The five directors were selected following a pitching process. The Red Sea International Film Festival worked with Saudi production company Cinepoetics to attract a diverse range of stories created by established directors and promising newcomers. The final five projects were selected for their engaging narratives and strong female leads, with their stories representative of the distinctive voices found across the Kingdom.
The production crews assembled across the main team, as well as for each short, are women-dominated, including two out of three coordinating producers, and four out of five producers on the film teams.
The project sees the directors realize their proposed shorts in an intensive, collaborative effort, driven by women. Hind Alfahhad commented, “it has been a unique experience participating in a film alongside fellow Saudi women directors, all telling stories around womanhood in distinctive ways.” Noor Alameer added, “the process of making this film, as a writer and director, was challenging. But seeing the idea come to life was the most satisfying feeling.”
Festival Director, Mahmoud Sabbagh said: “We believe in film’s capacity to advance diversity and integration. Supporting innovative new works is central to this mission. There is no better way to work towards this than by creating opportunities for Saudi filmmakers to tell their own stories. This project provides powerful first-person accounts of contemporary life in Saudi, from Saudi women, at a time of fascinating change.”
Each women-centered narrative is an intimate character portrait. Together, their varied settings and storylines display the diversity of the Saudi contemporary film scene, with the directors hailing from across the Kingdom and the films set in cities, including Mecca, Medinah, Jeddah, and Riyadh.
As filming wraps, the teams move on to post-production, ahead of the world premiere at the Red Sea International Film Festival in March 2020. The screening is a component of the Festival’s broad program of Saudi content, curated to encourage international audiences to encounter fresh work from the Kingdom.
Established in 2019, with its inaugural edition taking place from 12–21 March 2020, the Red Sea International Film Festival is an annual event held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jeddah’s Old Town, the Festival is committed to building a solid foundation for the film industry in Saudi Arabia, and to building connections between the Arab region and the world.