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Red Sea International Film Festival

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival took place from December 6 -15, 2021 with live dailies on

The Red Sea International Film Festival brings the best in Arab and World Cinema to Jeddah Old Town. The Festival showcases exciting new films on the Saudi big-screen, alongside retrospective programs celebrating the masters of cinema, the latest Saudi films, and feature and short film competitions. There are also industry events and workshops nurturing the next generation of talent.

In ‘Celebration of Women in Cinema’, the Red Sea International Film Festival (RedSeaIFF), hosted a gala event this evening at the 75th Cannes International Film Festival on the grounds of the magnificent Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes.


The second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival will run in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from December 1-10, 2022.


RSIFF interview with French director Yamina Benguigui in Jeddah




By Emmanuel Itier

Yamina Benguigui ( ) is truly a force of nature in France. She is a very respected filmmaker as well as a political voice whose visions bring changes to this world. Therefore, this was not a surprise that the first edition of The Red Sea International Film Festival ( ) selected her recent film ‘SISTERS’ ( ) for a special screening and on the eve of its U.S release. We were honored to have an inspiring conversation with Yamina in the magic land of Saudi Arabia.


Q: What is your feeling about being here, in Saudi Arabia, meeting other Arab women filmmakers? Does this bring some level of hope for the future?


Yamina: I’m here, in Jeddah, for only a few days and I was impressed by my encounter with so many women filmmakers. But I also met with an amazing youth and an audience who was able to watch my movie ‘SISTERS’. First, I have to admit I was surprised by their big cinema culture. I came here with no pre-conceived idea of this country. And I’m so happy to see how people want to connect and to enter into a fruitful conversation about making films. This is a rich festival that offers a wide range of many cinemas in the region. I was, in any case, already someone who was in admiration with the work of local Saudi women filmmakers. I want to mention, among others, the splendid movie ‘Wadjda’ from Haifaa Al-Mansour. I was dreaming to meet with Haifaa and I was so happy to find out we share the same visions and we lead the same fights to put together movies that are saying something meaningful in order to celebrate free speech. Sometimes, cinema is ahead of the curve of what is going on in our society. One image, in cinema, speaks a thousand words. Here, in Saudi Arabia, we are in the middle of a world in total transformation. My movie is perfect for these times of transformation because SISTERS is showing the fight led by women who are suffering of some inequalities, especially the inequality between men and women. It’s a movie that exposes the kidnapping of children in this Arab muslim world where the family codes are so different and unfair for women. I’m here to speak about it and I’m so happy to be able to do so.


Q: It seems to me that cinema today is more real than the reality we live in?


Yamina: Actually, my past as a filmmaker is making Documentaries. Making documentaries is a study of the reality we live in. My first documentary was called: “Women from Islam”. I filmed in 10 different muslim country to tell women condition in muslim countries and their sufferings. In a way a documentary is not too far from a possible fiction. And a fiction is not too far away from being also a documentary. My films are anchored in the reality of our times. And I remain an activist, a filmmaker with a political voice. This is what is important and a priority for me.


Q: Can cinema has a real political impact in what is going on in this part of the world and in the world in general in order to get to a more sustainable and peaceful planet?


Yamina: Yes. You have to remember that movie theatres were forbidden for a long time in Saudi Arabia and that film productions and distributions of movies were very limited. Now there is a real boom with the proliferation of theatres with almost 300 to 400 new movie screens to distribute films. There is a real will to produce and co-produce all types of movies. We also have a much bigger parity between women and men filmmakers. This is a huge hope that things are moving into the right direction. So, freedom of speech for these filmmakers is here to stay. And their message with spread across the world. I have faith in the future.

This is the true power of cinema.




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