Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – In a pioneering move, the quarterly Saudi cultural magazine, ‘Qawafil’ is celebrating Saudi film-making with an entire issue dedicated to the fledgling industry, which will also include a free DVD featuring the best of Saudi film.
The magazine’s Editor, Yusuf al Muhaymid, who is also a novelist and Saud al Sowayda, his deputy, were behind the magazine issue’s concept. “We had the idea putting together an issue on Saudi cinema and presenting the most prominent young Saudi directors” Al Muhaymid told Asharq Al-Awsat. “These young Saudis have produced their works in a unique way from the first idea to the writing, production and filming etc. Even if we do not call it real cinema, it is the beginning of something and Qawafil is honoring that.” He added.
In the issue, a number of articles on cinema and a filmography of Saudi films starting with 1976’s Abdullah al Mohsin’s docufilm entitled ‘Assassination of a City’ [Ightiyal Medina] and ending with films released over the past summer.
Saudi film critic Khalid Rabia al Sayed talks about the blossoming Saudi film industry, and also reviewed a number of movies particularly those that were featured in the last Jeddah Festival of Visual Art.
In another article, Abdullah al Eyaf, who won the Special Jury Award for his film ‘A Frame’ [Idar], talked about his experience regarding directing especially during his first docufilm ‘Cinema 500km’.
The issue also carries an interview with female Saudi film director Hayfaa al Mansour who was, as usual, frank in expressing her opinions. She believed that her experiences as well as those of Saudi cinema were still weak as there is the lack of a cinema culture and origin. She also embraced Western acceptance of her work saying, “They (some intellectuals) are now granting awards for movies that look at the humanitarian crimes taking place in Iraq and elsewhere. In my opinion, to perceive the West as an enemy is overloaded with inferiority complexes and self-doubt.”
In another interview, young Saudis expressed their aspirations towards this new phenomenon and their hopes in developing and establishing a film industry [in Saudi] in the future.
The free DVD that accompanied the issue included the following films: ‘Difficult Way’ [Tariq Saaba] by Samir Aref, ‘Rebellion’ [Tammarrad] by Abdul Aziz al Najam, ‘Girl of Heaven’ [Tiflat al Samaa] by Ali al Amir, ‘Just a Day’ [Mujarid Yowm] by Nawaf Muhanna and ‘Democracy’ by Meshal al Anzi.
In 2006, Saudi cinema was brought to the fore when two feature films, namely ‘Dhilal al Samt’ [Shadow of Silence] and ‘Keif al Haal’ [How are you?] were released, both raising controversy amongst film critics and the public.
Earlier this year, the first ever Saudi Arabia horror film ‘The Forgotten Village’ [Qariyat al Mansiya] was released in Egypt.