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Saudi Arabia launches new initiative to support next generation of women filmmakers

Film AlUla partners with production company Vertigo films for a short film competition

Saudi Arabia launches new initiative to support next generation of women filmmakers
[Source photo: AlUla | Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

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A short film competition, to be mentored by Hollywood director and actor Katie Holmes and award-winning Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour has been initiated in Saudi Arabia to support Saudi women directors in the international marketplace. 

Titled AlUla Creates, the short film competition is launched by Film AlUla, the film agency of The Royal Commission for AlUla, which has partnered with production company Vertigo Films to develop a community centered around film, arts, and fashion.

Charlene Deleon-Jones, executive director at Film AlUla, said that the experience and knowledge gained from the program will play an important role in spearheading the next generation of Saudi women filmmakers. 

The program provides female Saudi talent mentorship and equips them with the right tools needed for the film industry. “Film AlUla Creates Program presents a genuine opportunity to amplify the voices and artistic talents of Saudi Female filmmakers on the global stage,” said Jane Moore, executive producer and CEO at Vertigo Films. 

The competition is open to Saudi women directors of all experience levels, and a panel of industry experts will evaluate submissions.

The three winners will receive training from Al-Mansour, the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia who broke out internationally with her debut film Wadjda, and Holmes, known for films like Batman Begins and most-recent Alone Together, along with production support from Vertigo Films and a $20,000 grant to shoot the film in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of AlUla. The selected directors will also be invited to London to learn about the international marketplace, meeting with key sales, distribution, post, and VFX companies.

“When I first started making films, the idea of working as a female Saudi director seemed outlandish,” said Al-Mansour, adding, “But I knew that the world was curious to hear from us, to hear our side of the story and that films from home would strike a chord with audiences around the world.”

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