European cinema will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday when a first-of-its-kind festival begins.
Launched by the European Union in collaboration with Arabia Pictures Group, the festival will run for seven days and feature 14 films from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.
Shady Zinedine, director of project development and PR at the Arab Pictures Group, has revealed that the movies were chosen in collaboration with the embassies of 14 European Union member states, which submitted their nominations for films in coordination with a group of consultants.
“This event received far more attention than we had expected, and some of the embassies were unable to participate with us this year, but we promised them to participate next year,” said Zinedine, stressing that the European Film Festival will be held annually.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he explained that the event is significant because it is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia.
Another factor is the role it will play in supporting cultural exchange between the Kingdom and the Europeans in the field of filmmaking.
“Filmmaking has become an increasingly popular option in Saudi Arabia, so we must help them develop contacts with European filmmakers, and we look forward to the next stage (the second round of the festival), during which we hope they become better acquainted,” Zinedine said.
He added that the Ministry of Culture’s Film Commission also played a role in supporting the festival.
EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Patrick Simonet said he was looking forward to the event with great anticipation.
“We are delighted to host the first-ever European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia. As the European Union, we are interested in incorporating the vibrant cultural scene of Saudi Arabia, facilitating cultural exchange, and introducing European culture, while at the same time developing relations between Europeans and Saudis to enhance mutual understanding.”