Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival kicked off on November 30 with the world premiere of Dubai-based Iradi director Yasir Al-Yasiri’s fantasy HWJN. The film festival saw a full strength of celebrities from around the world including Hollywood A-listers like Will Smith, Sharon Stone, Johnny Depp, Bollywood star Ranveer Singh and a host of Arab stars.
It was a memorable red carpet for the third edition of the Red Sea Film Festival.
Among the attendees Johnny Depp kept a low profile but was seen smiling as he interacted with peers. He attended the festival with his Cannes-opener Jeanne du Barry. His film was funded by the Red Sea Film Foundation. His director, Maïwenn also made the trek to Jeddah. This is not all as Johnny Depp’s relationship with the foundation continues with his directorial effort Modi, a biopic about Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani. This project is also backed by the fund. The actor is scheduled to deliver an onstage conversation in the coming days.
This year’s Red Sea Film Festival has the theme of “Your Story, Your Festival”. The festival kickstarted in the auditorium of Jeddah’s Ritz Carlton hotel. Interestingly, the opening film, HJWN is also set in the same city. The fantasy is based on the YA novel by Saudi writer Ibraheem Abbas which was a local literary phenomenon due to its pioneering combination of Western sci-fi tropes and Arabic culture and folklore.
Speaking about the festival, Jomana Al Rashid, chairman of the Red Sea Film Festival’s foundation said, “Tonight we are privileged to be in the presence of remarkable talent not only from Saudi Arabia but [from] Africa, Asia and around the world.”
The finest stars of Hollywood graced the event.
Will Smith, Johnny Depp open Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival
Also, Red Sea CEO Mohamed Al Turki said, “The Saudi film industry is becoming a recognizable force, with the largest box office in the Middle East,” and noted that “it is evident that we are at the center of a cultural movement.”
Among others who attended were Sofia Vergara, Amina Khalil, Freida Pinto, Paz Vega, Ed Westwick, Amy Jackson, Lebanese actor, Nadine Nassib Njeim, Iran’s Mahlagha Jaberi, and Turkey’s Meryem Uzerli Meryem.
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