(MENAFN- Hkstrategies) About the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra)
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is a beacon of change in Saudi Arabia, and symbolic of KSA’s shift towards human energy based in culture, creativity and innovation. Saudi at heart and multicultural by nature, Ithra is a gateway to the Kingdom and a connection to the world. The Center creates new opportunities while preparing the next generation of original thinkers to lead in the creative and cultural industries. Ithra enriches lives and unlocks talent through a focus on cross-cultural experiences while encouraging the development of original content. The heart of the creative economy, Ithra offers purpose-driven programs and initiatives that support the Kingdom’s ongoing cultural transformation across the arts, sciences, culture and innovation.
About Ithra at Cannes 2023
Ithra is excited to return to Cannes for the third consecutive year as part of the Saudi Pavilion, overseen by the Saudi Film Commission. The Center is discussing the changing landscape of filmmaking in Saudi Arabia as part of the May 22 panel discussion titled “Saudi: The next film destination opportunity”.
Ithra is also announcing details of its first open call and supporting funding under its Ithra Film Production initiative at the 76th edition of the Festival de Cannes.
Ithra is represented by Majed Z. Samman, Head of Performing Arts & Cinema, and Hadeel Al-Eisa, Communications Unit Head.
Ithra and filmmaking in KSA
Ithra is the driving force behind several initiatives supporting the Kingdom’s film industry:
• Ithra’s Cinema, one of the few arthouse cinemas in the region, provides a purposeful and technological space for the Kingdom’s film talent to hone their skills and showcase their work
• Ithra is home to Saudi Film Days and the Saudi Film Society, which present a full program throughout the year
• Ithra also supports and hosts the annual Saudi Film Festival
About Ithra Film Production
Through the Ithra Film Production initiative, the Center complements activities designed to support talent and sector development with programs aimed at content creation, promotion and consumption.
One of the largest film producers in the Kingdom, Ithra Film Productions has helped dozens of filmmakers bring their dreams to life. It has produced more than 23 films, of which 15 have received local, regional and international awards. Ithra productions have been screened at 17 festivals around the world, while five are available to stream on Netflix.
Ithra’s first commissioned feature film was Joud (2018). Described as an “ancient poem for modern times”, the critically acclaimed film uses an experimental story structure derived from a pre-Islamic form of poetry, the “Qasida”. The dialogue-free film was shot in 16 locations across Saudi Arabia and screened at several international film festivals.
About Ithra Film Production’s current schedule
• Valley Road, award-winning Saudi independent filmmaker Khalid Fahad’s feature debut
o The film had its world premiere as the closing film at the 2022 Red Sea International Film Festival
o It is slated for general release on July 6
o Mark the big screen debut of its stars: Mohammed El Shehri (known for TV’s The Fates Hotel, Sekket Safar and Exit 7); singer, influencer and TV star Aseel Omran; and 10-year-old Hamad Farhan in his first acting role
o Aseel Omran won the Golden Palm for best actress at the Saudi Film Festival in May
o Valley Road is the first Saudi production to secure a G-rating
o The film features cast and crew consisting of aspiring Saudi talent, thus nurturing a new generation of film creatives
o Synopsis: Valley Road follows the odyssey of Ali, an autistic young man who gets lost on the way to see a doctor in a nearby village. Ali finds himself alone in the middle of nowhere, where a series of obstacles and challenges cannot stop him from discovering the world ahead of him.
• Hajjan, directed by Abu Bakr (A.B.) Shawky
o It features Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy
o Filming has recently wrapped, and the film is slated to have its world premiere at the 2023 Venice Film Festival, and its regional premiere at the 2023 Red Sea International Film before entering wide release in 2024, the UN’s Year of the Camel
o The cast and crew consist of aspiring Saudi talent embedded with an international crew, thus supporting the development of the next generation of Saudi filmmakers
o Synopsis: The film tells the coming-of-age story of a young orphan and his camel who form a special bond and embark on a journey across the Kingdom. Brothers Matar and Ghanim live in the endless desert of Saudi Arabia. When tragedy strikes, young Matar takes on camel racing to keep his camel, Hofira. When ruthless owner Jasser buys the camel, Matar has to give everything to fight for Hofira’s life.
• Anti-Cinema, a documentary by Ali Saeed and Hassan Saeed
o The project won the Ithra Content Commission Initiative
o The film brings the Kingdom’s film heritage to the big screen
o It is currently in post-production and scheduled for the international film festival circuit
• Hadi Alees, a documentary short by first-time director Abdullah Saharty
o The film focuses on the cultural significance of the Arabian camel and its impact reshaping the peninsula and its future
o It is expected to be released via on-demand video streaming services in 2024
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