The Delegation of the European Union in Riyadh, in cooperation with the Embassies of the EU Member States and the Arabia Pictures Group, announced on June 8th the first ever European Film Festival which will be taking place later this month in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Festival will run from 15-22 June and will feature screenings of 14 European films from different European countries. The countries around the EU include Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland, Spain and Sweden.
Among the gems to be featured are narrative features and docs like the Finnish documentary Aalto by Virpi Suutari, described as a "film journey into the life and work of one of the greatest modern architects Alvar Aalto." Also in the lineup Italian fiction feature My Brother Chases Dinosaurs by Stefano Cipani and featuring Italian movie star Alessandro Gassmann as well as recent Cannes juror Rossy de Palma. This one is a charming story of two young brothers, one of whom has Down Syndrome. The screenwriter of the film Giacomo Mazzariol will also be present in Riyadh a talk centered around Saudi filmmaking during the festival.
Other MIME favourites include I Am Greta, the German-funded documentary which gives fantastic insight on teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, directed by Swedish filmmaker Nathan Grossman.
From France, Grégory Magne's Les Parfums, starring Emmanuelle Devos and Grégory Montel, a charming woman's story on perfume "nose" Anne Walberg, who is somewhat difficult to deal with. But she encounters in her new driver Guillaume someone who is unafraid to stand up to her -- whims and all. Director Magne will also participate in the festival.
H.E. Mr. Patrick Simonnet, EU Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, commented on the event: “We are very happy to host the 1st ever European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia. As the EU, we are keen to add to the vibrant cultural scene of Saudi Arabia, facilitating cultural exchange and introducing European culture while also fostering contacts between Europeans and Saudis to enhance mutual understanding. We also thank our partners in this endeavor, especially Arabia Pictures, VOX Cinema and the Saudi Film Commission.”
Roua Al Madani, CEO of Arabia Pictures (APG), added: “This event is a milestone within the Kingdom and a bridge between Europe and the rising film industry in Saudi Arabia. We would like to thank the delegation of the European Union for collaborating with us, the Saudi Film Commission for its support and our esteemed partners, especially VOX Cinema.”
All screenings will take place at the VOX Cinema The Esplanade who is also co-sponsoring the event alongside Alliance Française, the Goethe Institut and the Embassy of Italy to Saudi Arabia. The event has also benefited from the support of the Saudi Film Commission.
“Film not only has the ability to entertain but also provides audiences with a window into other cultures. VOX Cinemas is proud to sponsor the inaugural European Film Festival in Riyadh, which celebrates the transformative power of cinema,” said Mohamed Al Hashemi, Country Head, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment, Cinemas & Lifestyle.
All tickets and further information can be found on the festival's website.