Saudi award-winning director Hamzah Jamjoom is preparing a film about love, co-existence, and acceptance of the other as part of Saudi Arabia’s all-out efforts to globalize Arab cinema and to help create a boom in all aspects of the film industry after it removed its 35-year-old ban on cinema in 2017.
Hamzah told Majalla that the film is aimed at showing the correct image of Arabs to the world away from entrenched stereotypes about terrorism and violence.
The movie, whose name is yet to be decided, tells the story of a father who tells his son to look for true love in its wider perception whether it is love for the homeland or for patents or for partners.
The film is a Saudi-US-Tunisian-funded production. Tunisian businessman and former French presidential candidate Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi is among the contributors.
The film director had previous experience in the Saudi film industry by directing the Saudi award-winning film Rupture or “Tamazok” in Arabic which shined light on the strengths of Arab women and their ability to overcome challenges.
The production of the films comes amid a drive by the Saudi government to put women empowerment at the heart of its Vision 2030 reform program.
Directed by Jamjoom and written by Alberto Lopez, Rupture tells the story of a Saudi couple who travel to London for fertility treatment.
When in London, they find their lives upturned by the concierge of their serviced apartment block. The concierge launched a campaign of psychological terror against the couple, but the wise Malak is surprisingly strong enough to confront adversaries.
The film made its debut at the Red Sea International Film Festival on December 6, 2021 as the only Saudi Arabian film in the competition. It won the audience award for the best Saudi feature.
More than 138 films from 67 countries from different regions of the world participated in the festival, which indicates the significant development of Saudi cinema in the past few years.
"We were impressed by the film on several levels, how it inspires dread in the audience, the use and accumulation of little signs of daily life, the fantastic portrait of the predator, and the clever use of disorientation to frighten not only the protagonist, but us watching too,” Edouard Waintrop, director of the film festival, told Majalla.
“The idea has always been to successfully deliver the inaugural edition and push the boundaries for Arab cinema; show the world that the region has changed over the past three years,” added Waintrop, according to Variety.
The festival, Waintrop added, “appeals to a new generation of people between the ages of 19 and 40 who are educated and more progressive, and they are benefiting from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s drive to modernize the region”.
Waintro cited in this regard “women’s right to drive, the opening of theaters and the upcoming launch of an arthouse cinema chain”.
“We have the best Arab film selection we could have hoped for, with movies addressing contemporary issues like the role of women and male violence,” he said. “The big battle we fought during the selection process was to free ourselves from censorship and we succeeded.”
This festival’s jury had among its members president of the Red Sea features competition, Academy Award-winning Italian director and writer Giuseppe Tornatore; Tunisian actor Hend Sabry; Palestinian-American director, writer, actor, and producer Cherien Dabis; Mexican festival director and founder of the Morelia International Film Festival Daniela Michel; and Saudi film director Abdulaziz Alshlahei.
Tornatore said: “The nominees showcased an incredible range of talent across a diverse and fascinating breadth of themes.
“This has been an extraordinary experience, we have been moved, provoked and inspired by these films and it has demonstrated the exceptional filmmaking talent and compelling stories from the Arab world, Africa and Asia. The quality of the nominated films made many of our decisions very difficult.”