Saudi Pavilion ignites excitement among international film industry at Cannes Film Festival

International film industry shown potential of sector's most exciting growth market as Saudi Pavilion closes at 74th Cannes Film Festival.

  • Red Sea Fund set to receive an additional $4m of funding from Saudi Film Commission taking total funding to $14m.
  • Saudi company, Cinewaves Films, acquires distribution rights to 10 films from the official selection of the 7th Saudi Film Festival.

CANNES – After an extremely successful first outing at the Cannes Film Festival, the Saudi Film Commission is celebrating the raft of deals signed and partnerships forged by the Kingdom’s leading film entities at the Saudi Pavilion. 

The industry’s eyes were firmly fixed on the abundance of Saudi film talent after it was announced that the Red Sea International Film Festival’s (RSIFF) Red Sea Fund would receive an additional $4m in funding from the Saudi Film Commission. The Fund, now totaling $14m is set to empower a larger pool of talented Saudi and Arab filmmakers and will support the development of 100 feature films and short projects.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture – Ithra announced it would release two new films in 2023, including coming-of-age story, Valley Road, by award-winning independent filmmaker, Khalid Fahad, and an Ithra-commissioned film by celebrated Egyptian screenwriter and producer, Mohamed Hefzy.

Further announcements included a new partnership agreed between Cinewaves Films and the Saudi Film Festival which saw the Saudi film distribution company acquire the distribution rights to 10 new films from the festival’s 7th edition.

Reflecting on the success of the Saudi Pavilion, Abdullah Al-Qahtani, the Film Commission’s CEO said: “It has been the greatest pleasure to showcase the very best of the Saudi film sector here at the Cannes Film Festival. 10 days of productive meetings have resulted in several exciting partnerships for Saudi film entities and have led to an exciting buzz around Cannes that Saudi really is the sector’s next big market. We can’t wait to see this translate into continued growth for the sector, as well as investment and partnerships over the coming months. As Cannes prepares to close its doors until 2022, the door to the Saudi film sector remains firmly open and we look forward to welcoming the international film community to the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah in December to bookend the year.”

The cinema industry in Saudi Arabia is the fastest growing in the Middle East – in production, consumption of films and streaming programming. The dynamism of the sector is creating a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity for international filmmakers, producers and creatives who wish to collaborate with or create content for the Saudi film market – which is expected to be worth $1.2bn by 2030.

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a cultural transformation as part of Vision 2030, which is diversifying the economy. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture, the cultural

sector is set to contribute more than $23bn to the Saudi economy and 100,000 jobs over the next decade.


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About the Saudi Pavilion: 

  • The Saudi Film Commission hosted the Saudi Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival.
  • The Pavilion hosted the Saudi Ministry of Investment, Red Sea International Film Festival, NEOM, Film AlUla, MBC Group, Ithra, Nebras Films, Telfaz11, CineWaves Films and Arabian Pictures.
  • A range of events took place in the Pavilion, including Meet the Saudi Film Industry on 8 July 2021 and Meet the Producers on 9 July 2021.

About the Film Commission:

  • The Film Commission, one of the Ministry of Culture’s 11 sector-specific commissions, oversees the Kingdom’s evolving film sector, supporting established and aspiring film professionals, and identifying and promoting local Saudi talent.
  • The Film Commission launched in 2020 to drive the growth of a thriving production ecosystem to address the increase in domestic and international demand.
  • The Film Commission is developing the sector by embedding a regulatory framework, driving investment into the sector, developing Saudi talent, building international partnerships and events, and positioning the Kingdom as a world class filming destination.
  • Supported by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategic framework, the Ministry of Culture is leading a cultural transformation to develop a rich ecosystem that nurtures creativity, unlocks the economic potential of the sector, and unleashes new and inspiring forms of expression.

About the Saudi film sector:

  • Home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Saudi Arabia offers unrivalled filming locations.
  • The Kingdom’s film exhibition revenues are expected to exceed SAR 6.3bn (US$1.67bn) by the end of 2030, of which SAR 1.85bn (US$500m) is expected to be generated from Saudi films.
  • Over the next five years, the Saudi film industry is expected to grow by a 25%+ Compound Annual Growth Rate (‘CAGR’), with the Saudi film sector set to contribute SAR 25bn to Saudi GDP by 2030.
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