Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Film Festival celebrates renowned Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara
Ati Metwaly, , Sunday 20 Dec 2020
The filmmaker held a masterclass in Jeddah, followed by a retrospective honoring his key works, which were restored by the Red Sea Festival Foundation


On 14 December, Egypt's renowned filmmaker Khairy Beshara held a masterclass at Mall of Arabia, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The masterclass was accompanied by a screening of Beshara's key works, which have been restored by the Red Sea Festival Foundation, namely The Collar and the Bracelet (1986), Bitter Day, Sweet Day (1988), Ice Cream in Gleam (1992), Abracadabra America (1993), Traffic Light (1995).

This is the first time that restored works by the Egyptian filmmaker are shown on the big screen in Saudi Arabia.

The festival also released a new biography on Beshara, edited by film critic Mohammed Sayyed Abdel-Raheem, featuring never before seen archival images.

The inaugural edition of the Red Sea Festival was scheduled to take place in March 2020, but due to the pandemic it was postponed. The management has decided that the festival's first edition will only feature a few events from its original schedule under the 'Label Edition' name. The festival announced that its second edition will take place in March 2021.

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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 in Jeddah 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.

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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 2019).

"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 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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