|12 February, 2020

Netflix buys rights to six Saudi films tackling social issues

The short films will be released under the title “Six Windows in the Desert” and will be available later this month in 190 countries

The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 16, 2018.

The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 16, 2018.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

RIYADH: Netflix is to stream six films made by Saudis after buying the rights from a start up studio based in the Kingdom.

The short films will be released under the title “Six Windows in the Desert” and will be available later this month in 190 countries.

The films made by Telfaz11 Studios aim to “shine a light on thought-provoking subjects with a focus on social themes,” the global streaming service said Wednesday.

The topics tackled include social taboos, extremism and the human psyche.

One of the films, "Wasati", is based on the true story of an extremist attack on a play in Riyadh 10 years ago, while another - "27th of Shaban" - focusses on two young Saudis going on a date.

“Not only will “Six Windows in the Desert” offer global audiences a lens into the perspective of the Saudi creators, but also through the eyes of film characters with their own take on storytelling,” Netflix said.

Nuha El-Tayeb, Director of Content Acquisition at Netflix, said the deal means viewers will have “exclusive access to captivating and intriguing stories from the Arab world.”

Alaa Fadan, Chief Executive Officer at Telfaz11 Studios, said the company was immensely proud to have six short films brought onto Netflix.

“We are excited to bring the work of local Saudi talents to 167 million subscribers around the world,” he said. “Telfaz11 Studios produces authentic and intriguing stories from our culture, and we cannot wait for the world to see what we have to offer.”

The Six Movies

- 27th of Shaban (2019): In the early 2000s, Mohammed and Nouf meet for a date; an act prohibited in Saudi Arabia. This film by Mohamed Al Salman shows how the date unfolds.

- Predicament in Sight (2016): A science-fiction short set in the 1970’s. Directed by Fairs Godus, survivors of a plane crash in an isolated desert area are forced to co-exist after multiple attempts to communicate with the outside world had failed.

- Wasati (2016): Based on the true story of extremists attacking a play called Wasati bela Wastiah (A Moderate without Moderation) in Riyadh 10 years ago, the film retells the events from a different point of view. Directed by Ali Kalthami, Wasati won Best Director and Best Foreign Film at the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in 2017.

- The Rat (2018): Fahad spends the last day of his life with the fear of his father looming over his head. Like a rat on a wheel, Fahad scurries through cycles of fear characterized by different aspects of his father and tries to break free. Written and directed by Faisal Al Amer.

- Is Sumyati going to Hell? (2016): A film through the eyes of Layan, the youngest child of a family who employs housemaid Sumyati. Having to deal with the racism of her employers, Sumyati tries to survive. Directed by Meshal Al Jaser, the film won Foreign Short Film at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards in 2017.

- Curtain (2018): A female nurse escaping traumatic events faces fear and judgement at her workplace. Directed by Mohamed Alsalman.

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