Saudi movie ‘Norah’, written and directed by Tawfik Alzaidi, will be filmed in AlUla
Saudi movie ‘Norah’, written and directed by Tawfik Alzaidi, will be filmed in AlUla Image Credit: Supplied

Pre-production has kicked off on the Saudi movie ‘Norah’, written and directed by Tawfik Alzaidi, which is set to be the first homegrown feature film to be shot entirely at the historical location of AlUla.

Film AlUla, the Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency, made the announcement on May 12 that preparations have started for the movie that’s produced by Black Sugar Pictures and Nebras Films.

Filming will begin next month with producers Paul Miller and Sharif Majali on board.

‘Norah’ is the debut feature from Saudi filmmaker Alzaidi, who is said to be part of the new cinema wave in the Kingdom.

Alzaidi said: “‘Norah’ explores our relationship to art and as a means of communication between people, its power to inspire and translate experiences that can bring about change. With the inspiring and creative landscape of AlUa as a backdrop, I’m looking forward to bringing this unique story to life.”

According to a statement, the movie is set in 90s Saudi Arabia, at a time when “all forms of art and painting are banned... Norah a young woman living in the village finds out that Nader is an artist. She sets out to have her portrait painted by him and so begins a relationship of artistic discovery between Nader and Norah. As Nader’s artistic inspiration awakens, he introduces Norah to a world of possibilities outside the village.”

The film’s script was the winner and recipient of a fund award at the Saudi Film Commission’s Daw Film Competition, an initiative launched by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture in September 2019 to support Saudi film production and champion the next generation of filmmakers.

Film AlUla will support and facilitate the project with logistics, crew, locations, casting and local expertise.

Stephen Strachan, Film Commissioner at Film AlUla, said: “Following the success of ‘Kandahar’, we’re delighted to welcome the feature film ‘Norah’ to AlUla. This is the first feature film to use our new film resort with accommodation and offices dedicated for film crew. This is a great opportunity to provide stunning backdrops for such a unique and authentic independent film, boost the young local crew’s experience, showcase new talented voices, develop creativity and support the entire production every step of the way. It’s an extremely exciting time for Saudi film and TV as we invest in infrastructure, cultivate our attractive financial and support offerings to drive confidence in the industry here, and ultimately attract more productions to cement our position on the global map.”

Hollywood flick ‘Kandahar’, directed by Ric Roman Waugh and starring Gerard Butler, wrapped in January and shot in AlUla and Jeddah.

The 350-strong film crew for the action movie was made up of 10 per cent Saudi nationals, and over 350 AlUla locals were recruited as extras.