DJEDDAH: As the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival nears mid-term, one of the early successes has been a film that showcases the work of five emerging Saudi female talents.
âQuareerâ is an anthology that tells five distinct stories about Saudi women, exploring themes of abandonment, neglect, control, abuse and shame in a conservative society.
It is the graduation project of five young filmmakers who studied together in the visual and digital production department of Effat University in Jeddah: director and producer Ragheed Al-Nahdi, director and screenwriter Norah Almowald, the director Ruba Khafagy, director and screenwriter Fatimah Alhazmi and director Noor Alameer.
The film had its world premiere at the festival on December 8 and a second screening on December 9. Tickets sold out quickly and it would have been the first movie to sell. There will be a third screening on December 15, the last day of the festival.
Inspired by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad that men should be kind to women, âQuareerâ is a drama that tells stories about Saudi women of different ages, from different periods, and the challenges they face as they risk everything to carve out a place for themselves. own places in the world.
Khafagy told Arab News she was honored to work with such a creative and dedicated team of friends.
âWe’ve been together since our first year and we’ve been working on this movie since 2015,â she said. âWe are proud of the result and of the course itself.
âThe support we have received from the filmmakers and the RSIFF is huge and incredible because, according to the festival, ‘Quareer’ was the first film to be sold out on the day of the premiere. Full screens and amazing audiences – we couldn’t ask for more. “
Almowald said the film explored a number of controversial topics and therefore it was difficult for the directors to pitch their ideas and they were initially rejected. But nothing could stop them from realizing their vision, she added, because they all believe that great directors think big from the start.
âThe idea was big for a team of newbie directorsâ¦ the project was huge,â she said. âHowever, many international directors, great immortals in the history of cinema and cinema, began their careers through their graduation projects, notably German, French and American directors.
âIndependent films have a particular nostalgiaâ¦ because they do their best to deliver a voice, a message or a color at the lowest possible cost. âQuareerâ is an independent film because we and those who believed in our talent, family and friends, have to fund it. I’m so proud of how the whole team insisted on continuing the story until it became a reality.
In 2018, when cinemas started reopening in Saudi Arabia after a long hiatus, and the launch of the Red Sea International Film Festival this year, there were no national festivals or other local platforms to support and share the work of young Saudi talents.
âMost student filmmakers have chosen to post their graduation films online for more clicks and audiences,â Almowald said. “However, these options were not really preferable to our team as we were hoping for a really large audience and we wanted to hear people’s comments on our film face to face.”
After the directors shot their films, the complex process of editing and post-production came, and they got help for that.
âThanks to the Red Sea Development Fund for funding our post-production stage,â Almowald said. “This support gave us the chance to get the best result from our film.”
Al-Nahdi told Arab News that she and her fellow directors are proud to be part of the first Saudi film festival.
âFrankly, we dream of having cinemas in the country,â she said. âNow we don’t just have cinemas, we have a whole film festival here in Jeddah on the Red Sea coast. We are proud to have such an international film festival in the heart of the Kingdom.
âThis is our first step. We hope to represent our country with many more films in the future.