Journey to Mecca "Photo: film still"
In a country where the film industry is practically non existent, a film festival is preparing for its third edition.
Thirty-three films, all Saudi, have been selected to be screened within the Youth Film Festival screening, which runs between 30 January and 2 February with screenings taking place in Jeddah's Literary Club.
The festival opens with Journey to Mecca, a film depicting the journey of famous Muslim explorer, Ibn Battuta.
The festival has several competitions and the films will compete for a variety of awards, such as Best Short Feature Film, Best Documentary, Best Director Memorial, Best Actor, Best Editing, Best Photography, and Best Screenplay.
A special additional section focusing on students' films will give awards for the Best Narrative Short Film Award and Best Documentary Award.
Though the issue of opening cinema theaters in Saudi is one of the topics that comes into discussion, until today, the country does not have any dynamic cinema life. An IMAX cinema located in the city of Khobar is the only film theater in Saudi Arabia.
Due to continuous objections of religious conservatives, all the cinema theaters established in the 1970s, most of which were in Jeddah and Mecca, have been closed down in the 1980s.
Keif al-Hal?, released in 2006, is considered to be the first Saudi film. It was shot in United Arab Emirates and starred a Jordanian actress.
In 2012 the film Wadjda by Haifaa Al-Mansour was the first feature Saudi film with a Saudi cast and shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. Wadjda has garnered considerable international recognition, the pinnacle of which was the CinemAvvenire award at the Venice Film Festival and a BAFTA nomination for Best Film Not in the English Language.
Apart from Keif al-Hal and Wadjda, Saudi Arabia's film industry is fairly small, with few documentaries and feature films being produced each year.
The festival runs from January 30 to February 2, organised by the General Presidency of Youth Welfare with the cooperation of Rowad Media and Effat University. All films will be screened in Jeddah Literary Club.
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