Saudi producer Ithra announces open call to fund film projects
Posted on 2023 May,23

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The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is inviting international filmmakers to collaborate with their Saudi counterparts under a new open call supported by a funding initiative.

One of the largest film producers in the Kingdom, Ithra announced the plan at this year’s 76th Cannes International Film Festival. Under the initiative, Ithra Film Productions aims to commission and fund up to five films annually.

“Ithra Film Production supports Saudi Arabia’s growing film industry by nurturing home-grown talent and fostering cinematic content creation,” said Majed Z. Samman, Head of Performing Arts & Cinema at Ithra. “We invite international filmmakers to collaborate with filmmakers in the Kingdom and join us on our journey to accelerate talent and sector development in Saudi.”

This is Ithra’s first open call for film proposals. Samman announced the fund in the Ithra-hosted discussion panel themed “Saudi Arabia: A film destination opportunity” at the Saudi Pavilion. The panel highlighted Saudi opportunities and collaborations within the film industry ecosystem. Samman was joined by Charlene Deleon-Jones, Film AlUla Executive Director; Fatima AlBabtain, Film Financing Manager at Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Development Fund; and Zeinab Abu Alsamh, General Manager of MBC Studios and CEO of MBC Academy.

Samman said the fund offers filmmakers from around the world the opportunity to film against backdrop of the Kingdom’s unspoilt landscapes. “By working with local crews, we hope to facilitate an organic process of knowledge transfer and cross-cultural exchange that would elevate the local industry and enrich the global cinematic landscape.”

The open call closes on August 4, 2023. A panel of distinguished Arab filmmakers will select the final projects to receive funding.

Ithra Film Productions is aligned with the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plans to diversify its economy. The initiative 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 have streamed on Netflix.

The Ithra-produced Valley Road by award-winning independent director Khalid Fahad had its worldwide premiere as the closing film at the Red Sea International Film Festival. Fahad’s debut feature film is slated for release this summer. Filming recently wrapped on Hajjan, an Ithra-commissioned feature film by celebrated Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy, directed by Abu Bakr Shawky. Featuring emerging Saudi talent embedded in an international crew, the film is expected to join the festival circuit this fall.