Photograph of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, December 2, 2012 - Pixabay/SofiLayla
CAIRO – 10 April 2018: Following its decision to allow movie theaters in the country, Saudi Arabia is taking the next step and for the first ever time participating in the 71st Cannes Film Festival in France, which is set to run from May 8 to 19, 2018.
The news comes from the recently formed Saudi Film Council, which announced its participation, according to the National, and will launch internationally with its own space at Cannes. The Kingdom will come to the festival with its own pavilion, allowing visitors to the Cannes Film Festival to meet and converse with filmmakers, industry professionals and actors from Saudi Arabia, allowing for it to become a more desirable spot for film locations. The Saudi Film Festival will also be hosting a wide range of industry events that will allow for a better understanding of the region's interests in the film world.
Saudi Arabia's official selection of contributing films will be announced on Thursday, but for now it's known that nine short films will be participating as part of the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film category on May 14 and 15.
Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux spoke warmly of Saudi Arabia's debut in a statement, according to Deadline:
“I am thrilled that Saudi Arabia has launched the Saudi Film Council with a clear focus on nurturing its filmmaking talent and sharing Saudi stories with the world. Its participation is a great way of opening up global opportunities for its creative talent. The many young filmmakers among the Saudi delegation will have access to the world’s most prestigious film festival, including meaningful interactions with leading, international film industry professionals.”
This news follows the recent announcement that “Black Panther” will be the first film to be screened at Saudi Arabia's new AMC Multiplex, set to open in Riyadh on April 18. Saudi Arabia's newfound interest in the film industry is an important part of its Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify and strengthen the economy by weaning it off oil and looking into other industries, such as entertainment.