by Brian Murphy.
No one would mistake the scene for Cannes. The towers from oil refineries dotted the horizon instead of the masts of mega-yachts. Sparkling water was the only bubbly for toasts. But for Saudi Arabia’s tightknit community of filmmakers, the event in February had more meaning than hobnobbing on the Riviera.
The film festival in the eastern city of Dammam was just the second government-approved showing of short movies and documentaries in recent years. It kindled hopes – still faint – that Saudi rulers could be slowly warming to the idea of film in a land where cinemas are banned.
“Filmmaking is all about trying something new, experimenting and not giving up,” said Mohammed Baqer, one of the organisers of the Saudi Film Festival – the first major showcase and competition since a small workshop-style event last year. “So we don’t give up on the idea of change. Look at the winners of the festival.”
Read the rest of this article from The Guardian.
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