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Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Fest Unveils 2022 Line-Up; Sets Oliver Stone As Jury President & ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ As Opening Film

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Oliver Stone will preside over the main competition jury of the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival, honoring a promise to attend in that role dating back to 2020.

The Academy Award-winning Born On The Fourth Of July and Natural Born Killers director was previously announced as jury president for the festival’s inaugural 2020 edition, which was postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The festival, running December 1 to 10 in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, unveiled most of the line-up for its sophomore edition on Monday

As of now, the event will showcase 131 feature-length and short films from 61 countries in total, 34 of them world premieres; 17, regional premieres, and 47, MENA premieres. 

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The main competition focused on works by Arab, African and Asian directors, will showcase 15 films, with potential additions to come.

They include the world premiere of Moroccan and French director Omar Mouldouira’s A Summer in Boujad, about a teenager raised in Paris, trying to find his place in a newly blended family in Morocco after his widower father remarries. 

Two Saudi features will also debut in competition: Mohamed Al Salman’s Raven Songfollowing a man who is diagnosed with a brain tumor just as he meets the woman of his dreams, and Moe Alatawi’s Within Sand, about a young tobacco merchant ambushed by thieves on route home to his pregnant wife. 

African contenders include Angolan director Ery Claver’s Our Lady Of The Chinese Shopan allegory about the current state of Africa revolving around an imported plastic model of the Virgin Mary purported to have special powers. The film debuted in Locarno over the summer.

Kenyan editor–turned–writer-director Angela Wanjiku’s The Pit, following a once respected English teacher, newly released from prison, as he rebuilds his life in the rural Kenyan village of Shimoni, which translates as “the pit”. The feature debuted in Toronto’s Discovery strand. 

Other 2022 festival hits in the selection include Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini’s female-focused, post-independence drama Before Now and Then (Nana), which premiered in competition in Berlin; Lotfy Nathan’s Tunisia popular uprising era tale Harka, which debuted in Cannes Un Certain Regard, and Korean director July Jung’s Cannes Critics’ title Next Sohee.

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Venice titles in the mix span Syrian director Soudade Kaadan’s NezouhThe Last Queen by Algerian directorial duo Damien Ounouri and Adila Bendimerad, Dirty Difficult Dangerous by Lebanese and French director Wissam Charaf, Hanging Gardens by Iraqi director Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji,  and Kazakh filmmaker Eldar Shibanov’s Mountain Onion.

Further contenders include this year’s Indian Oscar entry, the ode to cinema Last Film Show by Pan Nalin, and Iranian filmmaker Reza Jami’s A Childless Village, revolving around an elderly filmmaker who returns to a village where he once shot an investigative documentary about unexplained infertility, discovering all was not as it seemed at the time.

“The films set to compete at the Red Sea Competition, of which several received crucial support from the Red Sea Fund, span a variety of different genres and eras and are created by a wide range of incredibly talented filmmakers,” said Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics for the RedSeaIFF.

“The Arab actors shine in extremely challenging roles, whilst the directors identify with the characters in all their complexity and we are thus confronted with regrets, redemption, courage, self-seeking and revenge, but also love in all its aspects. “

Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the RedSeaIFF, added the number of submissions had risen considerably this year following the festival’s successful inaugural edition.

“There were tough decisions to be made,” he said. We have been delighted by the extraordinary storytelling and this year’s selection is of the highest caliber showcasing the enormous depth and diversity of stories from Asia, Africa and the Arab world.”

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Opening, Closing Films, Red Carpet Galas

Valley Road, Red Sea International Film Festival

The festival also announced that Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur’s cross-cultural romantic comedy What’s Love Got To Do with It?, will open the festival with a red carpet gala. 

The feature, starring Lily James as a London filmmaker who heads to Lahore with her best friend (Shazad Latif) to document his journey to an arranged marriage, originally premiered at Toronto.

Saudi writer and director Khaled Fahd’s drama Valley Road has been announced as the closing film. 

The culturally ground-breaking tale follows the journey of an autistic young boy man growing up in a beautiful mountain village, after he gets lost on his way to see a doctor in a neighboring village. 

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Further red carpet gala titles include Saudi director Fahad Alammari’s Alkhallat+. A spin-off of the hit online series AlKhallat, which drew 1.5 billion views during its 22-episode run, the anthology film spans four tales of deception and trickery in unlikely places. 

The red carpet program also features Lara Saba’s All Roads Lead to Rome, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker, Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, Park Chan-Wook’sDecision to LeaveSimon Mendes’ Empire Of Light, Zeyad Alhusaini’s How I Got There, John Ikram Sawers’s Kamla, Joel Crawford’s Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, Yasmine Benkiran’s Queens, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s Rebel and Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness.

Beyond the main competition and red carpet screenings, other sidebars willl span Festival Favorites, New Saudi/New Cinema, Red Sea: Treasures, Red Sea: Arab and International Spectacular, Red Sea: Family and Children, Red Sea: Virtual Reality and Red Sea: Series.

This edition also sees the introduction of the new strand Red Sea: New Vision, dedicated to filmmakers pushing the boundaries of creativity with a style of genre-defining filmmaking that challenges audiences. 

“Our programmers have curated the best of Arab and international cinema, talent-led galas of some of the most anticipated films of the year, and an exceptional selection from astonishing new Saudi talents who are paving the way in our country’s flourishing industry,” said CEO of the RedSeaIFF Mohammed Al Turki.

The festival also unveiled a programme of conversations with award-winning filmmakers  Fatih Akin, Gurinder Chadh and Kaouther Ben Hania as well as, Egyptian actress Mona Zaki and veteran Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmy.

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Industry Iniatives

In keeping with its remit to support the growth of a TV and film industry in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and North Africa region, the festival will also hold the second edition of its Red Sea Souk industry platform.

The event encompasses an exhibition space showcasing local companies and film and TV initiatives, a talks program and a project market showcasing 23 upcoming features by Arab and African directors.

“The country is rapidly securing its position as a hub for film, culture, arts, and fashion as it becomes a world-class center for film production,” said Managing Director of the RedSeaIFF Shivani PandyaMalhotra.

“The Red Sea IFF is very much at the heart of this transformation providing a platform to showcase a new generation full of energy and creativity. Through the Red Sea Souk, we are in position to support filmmakers in all stages of their careers and our programs throughout the year follow the full-cycle of filmmaking.”

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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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