Saudi's inaugural Red Sea Int'l Film Festival to honour Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara

Ati Metwaly , Thursday 26 Dec 2019

Jeddah's first international film festival is holding several activities celebrating Beshara, including a retrospective with screenings of the filmmakers' best works

Khairy Beshara
Khairy Beshara during the 24th International Film Festival of Kerala, India (Photo: Khairy Beshara's Facebook)

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF), which will take place between 12 and 21 March 2020 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will honour renowned Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara.

As part of celebrating the filmmaker's work, the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation has remastered and restored nine of Beshara's films, including Floater Number 70 (1982), The Collar and the Bracelet (1986), Sweet Day, Bitter Day (1988), Crab (1990), Ice Cream In Gleam (1992), Strawberry War (1993), and Traffic Light (1995).

The festival will hold Beshara retrospective, during which many of the filmmaker's widely-acclaimed works will be screened for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Along the same lines, the festival will also publish a biography about Beshara, including unseen archival photographs. The book is edited by film critic Mohamed Sayyed Abdel-Raheem.

The festival describes Beshara as "one of the key proponents of Neo-Realism in Egypt and the Arab World in the 1980s, and the originator of the 1990s' youthful cinema and folk fantasy films."

Born in 1947 and a graduate of the Egyptian Higher Institute of Cinema (1976) and the Film Institute in Poland (where he was on a two-year fellowship), he launched his career with several documentaries – Tank Hunter (1974), The Village Doctor (1975), Illumination (1977), The Talk of the Rocks (1978), and Surpassing Despair (1980), among others – before moving on to feature narrative movies.

The latter include films screened during the RSIFF as well as Bloody Destinies (1982, an Egyptian-Algerian co-production); America Abracadabra (America Shika Bika, 1993); Nutshell (1995); A Night on The Moon (2008), which is a digital film transferred to 35mm; and Moondog (2012).

Beshara is one of the first Egyptian and Arab directors to venture into digital filmmaking in the late 1990s. The filmmaker also has numerous television series under his belt: Habiba's Heart (2005), Zaat (Self, 2012, episodes 17 to 30), The People of Alexandria (2014), The Flood (2017), and Karma's Curse (2018), among others.

Beshara continues to be active on the international scene, often joining renowned festivals. Most recently, the Egyptian filmmaker headed the jury panel of the 24th International Film Festival of Kerala, India (6-13 December).

"Khairy Beshara is considered one of the main pillars of Egyptian cinema. His work has inspired countless directors of the new generation," says festival director Mahmoud Sabbagh.

"Beshara's films portray deep human meanings and adopt bold and original techniques. With this celebration, we aim to express our gratitude towards Khairy Beshara for his incredible body of work, and to honour Egyptian cinema and its pioneering work."

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival is organised by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation, being the first Saudi independent non-profit organisation with an official mandate to promote film culture.

Among the foundation's aims is to shed light on Saudi cinema, promoting international cinema to the local audiences, and supporting Saudi and international filmmakers while nurturing the cultural scene.  

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