Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) has announced Edouard Waintrop as its Artistic Director, ahead of its inaugural edition in November 2021.
Earlier, Waintrop served as the former Artistic Director of the Directors’ Fortnight (2011 – 2018), an independent programme running parallel to the Cannes Film Festival. He joins the RSIFF after two years as president of a commission helping and financing the development of feature films, as part of the Centre national du Cinéma, Paris, and as the programmer of the international section at the Bordeaux International Independent Film Festival.
“It is a great privilege and honour to be leading the Red Sea International Film Festival. This new and great Festival will celebrate all aspects of cinema, from the creatives telling stories to the technical craftspeople putting imaginative ideas onto the big screen, celebrating filmmaking as force for positive change. The Festival is set to reflect that metamorphosis and to be the place for the leaders and visionaries of Arab cinema, both established and emerging, to meet, celebrate successes, and look forward to a bright future,” Waintrop said in a statement.
Other members joining the team include the award-winning writer/director and former Washington Post correspondent Faizah Ambah who will serve as the Special Programme Manager.
They will join a team of programmers from across the world, including film critic Kaleem Aftab (Director of International Programming), Antoine Khalife (Director of Arab Programmes & Film Classics), and Mohyee Qari (Programme Manager).
New names joining the programming team also include Marta Balaga, Alice Kharoubi, Leigh Singer, Carmen Thompson, Badih Massaad, and Kim Young-woo as programming consultants. Julie Bergeron returns to the RSIFF as Red Sea Souk Consultant, moving from her previous role as Head of Red Sea Souk. Bergeron has been head of industry programmes at the Cannes Marché du Film as well as the project manager of its Ventana Sur Latin American offshoot.
The November 2021 festival is led by a team of Saudi and international curators, film specialists, and industry veterans, including Managing Director Shivani Pandya, and Jumana Zahid, who heads the Red Sea Lodge, the Foundation’s incubator for Saudi and Arab filmmakers, now in its second edition.
Pandya used to be the managing director of the now defunct Dubai International Film Festival that ran from 2004 until 2015. In 2018, it was said the film festival will take place every two years but has yet to return.
The Red Sea Souk, the Festival’s industry platform for distributors, sales agents, and producers, is helmed by Zain Zedan (Industry/Souk Manager). The operations team is led by Ibrahim Modir (Head of Shared Services).
RSIFF will be held from November 11 to 20 in Jeddah Old Town, Saudi Arabia. Under the theme of ‘Metamorphosis’, it celebrates film as a force for positive change and reflects on the local context, as well as the blossoming Middle East and North African film scenes.
A part of the Red Sea Film Foundation, which is an independent, non-profit organisation created to support the film industry in Saudi Arabia in the production, distribution and education of cinema, RSIFF aims to bring the best in Arab and world cinema to the country. The festival will feature 11 programme sections that will showcase contemporary international and Arab cinema, Saudi features, shorts and experimental films, retrospectives, and future-oriented AR and VR experiences. The sections include:
Red Sea: Competition: Featuring works from Asia and Africa, including the Arab world, the competition values cinematic forms that push limits across fiction and documentary, presenting daring productions by emerging and established voices, with generous prizes awarded by an international jury.
Red Sea: Shorts Competition: Featuring works of less than 60 minutes from Asia and Africa, including the Arab world, the competition values cinematic forms that push limits across fiction and documentary, presenting daring productions by emerging and established voices, with generous prizes awarded by an international jury.
International Spectacular: Cinema from around the globe featuring celebrated auteurs and star names. This section will feature some of the most highly anticipated and talked about films of the year shown for the first time in the Arab world.
Arab Spectacular: Find the pulse of Arab creativity in this carefully curated selection of commercial and independent movies, award winners, and regional premieres.
New Saudi / New Cinema: A curated introduction to the most vital new filmmakers and artists from Saudi Arabia. Diverse and dynamic, the voices shaping the scene; from arthouse features and shorts to documentaries, these are the films primed for launch on the international circuit.
Tajreeb: Dynamic, extroverted, and impressionistic, Tajreeb is a programme of experimental films from Saudi artists pushing limits with form and content, finding new ways to tell stories.
Red Sea: Festival Favourites: An expansive roundup of the year’s international hits – audience and critics’ favourites hot from the Festival circuit and films discovered and specially curated by the Festival team.
Red Sea: Immersive Future: Celebrating technological advances in cinema, from new modes of viewing, immersive experiments and the latest in audio-visual experiences, this strand features the best in Augmented and Virtual Reality.
Red Sea: Treasures: A focus on the classics, including acclaimed titles from across the ages, and across the world. A selection of unmissable gems, these are the masterpieces that have inspired generations of directors — many screened for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
Red Sea: Next Generation: Entrancing stories for younger audiences with a big appetite for film, featuring leading studios, networks, and filmmakers from around the globe.
Red Sea: Episodic: The best in episodic storytelling from around the globe. Up to two episodes of series made for broadcast on television, streaming or web platforms. The place to discover the best in episodic screened for the first time in the Kingdom.