Winners of the 2016 Saudi Film Festival


The 2016 Saudi Film Festival concluded Monday night in the Gulf coast city of Dammam, after four days of screenings and filmmaking workshops aimed at establishing a well-founded Saudi film industry.
More than 50 Saudi screenplays, still awaiting production, and 70 Saudi films competed in four different categories for the festival’s Golden Palm Tree Awards, these are the top winning films.
‘Kaman’ – Golden Palm Tree Award in Short Feature Film Category
‘Kaman,’ directed by Saudi filmmaker Abd El-Aziz Al-Shelahi, was one of the films that made the strongest impressions at the festival. Its story revolves around a man who doesn’t listen to music due to his religious beliefs. As he travels to a foreign country, he is forced to interact with a violin in an unusual series of events.

‘Basta’ – Silver Palm Tree Award in Short Feature Film Category

‘Basta,’ directed by Saudi filmmaker Hind Al-Fahad, won the special jury prize in the Gulf Short Muhr Awards category at the 2015 Dubai International Film Festival. Based on a true story, the film revolves around a group of women who struggle daily with discrimination in order to earn a place where they can sell their goods in a traditional Saudi souk, allowing them to earn a living.

‘Asfar’ – Golden Palm Tree Award in Short Documentary Film Category

‘Asfar,’ directed by Saudi filmmaker Mohammed Salman, was also one of the well-received films at the festival. The documentary tells the stories of the drivers of the distinctive old yellow taxis in Qatif City, who struggle to compete with the drivers of the modern white Saudi taxis.

‘Al-Mataha’ – Silver Palm Tree Award in Short Documentary Film Category

Directed by Saudi director Faisal Al-E’teibi, ‘Al-Mataha’ is about the destruction of the marine environment in the Jizan Region on the Saudi Red Sea coast, where overfishing and other forms of environmental damage have left Saudi fishers in a problematic dilemma.

‘Mator’ – Golden Palm Tree Award in Student Film Category

Directed by Saudi law student and filmmaker Mohammed El-Helail, ‘Mator’ revolves around withdrawal from society. The film tells the story of a socially isolated man whose motorcycle gets broken, forcing him to use other transportation means. He then must interact with the people he had always avoided.

‘Ah-18’ – Silver Palm Tree Award in Student Film Category
Directed by young Saudi filmmaker Riham El-Timani, ‘Ah-18’ is a bold experimental film that uses abstract symbols to tell its narrative, instead of characters. The film revolves around the philosophical concept of domination and controlling the human mind in a way that allows the stronger person to impose themselves and suppress those around them.
The Saudi Film Festival is one of many recent initiatives trying to increase the acceptance of the culture of cinema in the kingdom, where cinemas have been banned for 30 years.
Despite the restrictions, the third edition of the Saudi Film Festival received hundreds of workshop applications and competition entries. The films screened at the event served as more than enough proof of the incredible filmmaking potential in the country.
Taken from – written by Noha Medhat


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