Five Female Directors’ ‘Quareer’ Wins Big Prize at Saudi Film Festival

Anthology film “Quareer”, by five young Saudi female directors, emerged as the big winner of the eighth edition of the Saudi Film Festival, which is the oldest film event in the country.

“Quareer” consists of five segments depicting women taking risks for carve out their own spaces, and explores themes of abandonment, neglect, control, abuse and shame in the changing conservative Saudi society. The film won five awards in total at the festival, including the Golden Palm Tree for Best Film and Best Director(s), which were awarded collectively to the filmmakers. Ragheed Al Nahdi, Norah Almowald, Ruba Khafagy, Fatma Alhazmi and Noor Alameer.

Additionally, “Quareer,” which premiered last December at the Red Sea Saudi Film Festival in Jeddah, also won awards for bcinematographic, best scenario and best score.

Held in the eastern city of Dhahran, the The Saudi film festival was founded by its pioneering artistic director Ahmed Al-Mulla in 2008, when cinema was still banned in Saudi Arabia for religious reasons, and only took place intermittently. The ban on cinemas was finally lifted in 2018.

This year expanded edition, which ran from June 2-9, included a film competition and a screenplay development lab. The event is now organized by the Dammam Culture and Arts Society in partnership with the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in collaboration with the Saudi Cinema Association with the support of Saudi Film Commission and the brand new Red Sea Film Festival.

UK-based Iraqi filmmaker and producer Koutaiba Al-Jabani (“Leaving Baghdhad”) chaired the main jury, which also included Saudi-Canadian actor and writer Aixa Kay (“Jasmine Road”) and Egyptian filmmaker Ahmed Fawzi Saleh (“Poisonous Roses”).

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