On Thursday evening, the work of the ninth session of the “Saudi Films” festival ended with a grand ceremony befitting the festival’s achievements on more than one level. What is more important than the results is how the festival has grown, what it is like and what it will be like tomorrow.
Naturally, the responsibilities increase as the festival grows rapidly year after year. With the increase in responsibilities, those issues that need briefing and knowledge multiply. What is surprising is that the administration calculated everything, developed its plans, and implemented them with remarkable success.
What could have happened as a result of this growth was the loss of intimacy, but this still exists, guarded by the desire for daily meetings after performances and the exchange of various kinds of conversations related to cinema, especially Saudi cinema itself.
It is not surprising that Saudi cinema finds itself at the center of everyone’s attention, officials, critics, intellectuals, and audiences. Within 3 years and a few months, it took steps that many other countries could not take in ten years, with the same results and taking into account the vastness of the cinematic fields that the Saudi government aimed to do together.
The Executive Director of the Film Authority, Abdullah Al Ayyaf, said in an interview with him: “The issue is not just financing films and helping their makers, but rather includes all other requirements that the film industry needs, even in its smallest details.”
This talk reveals the work that had to go in parallel with every other matter. In this short period, bodies, associations, archives, work logistics, departments, support funds, festivals were established, and we do not forget to open the way for the Saudi public to watch the latest productions distributed by international companies. All at once and without slowing down or defaulting.
The distance seems very long since those first attempts, which took place in the thirties. Collections of news and documentaries, and he directed towards the feature film, and then the beginning of the era of Major Abdullah Al-Muhaisen, who, when he realized, in the eighties, that he would not be able to make his films inside Saudi Arabia, due to the conditions of the social stage and the positions of some influential religious authorities, he started making his films outside the borders.
Al-Muhaisen was one of the first non-Lebanese directors to make films about the civil war, through his film “The Assassination of a City” in 1976.
Al-Muhaisen’s career continued in many aspects, as he directed the feature film “The Time of Silence” and made documentaries and animations. His project was ambitious, but the world around him was changing, and Al-Muhaisin did not find that he could live in one place and film and watch his films in another place.