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Red Sea film festival announces $3m for prizes, production

  • Prizes to be awarded at the inaugural festival in Jeddah in March
  • “The Book of Sun” and “Forty Years and a Night” to be premiered at the festival

JEDDAH: The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced cash prizes totaling $3 million to be awarded at the inaugural festival in Jeddah between March 12 and 21, 2020. 

Competition prizes reward cinematic excellence from around the world, emphasizing innovation and daring expression. The competition runs across six categories, with winners chosen by a jury of eminent international film figures.

The Golden Yusr Trophy for best feature carries a $100,000 cash prize and the Silver Yusr Trophy for best director is worth $50,000. There will also be an audience award carrying a cash prize of $50,000.

A Silver Yusr Trophy will be awarded for best screenplay, actor, actress and cinematic contribution.

An additional Golden Yusr Trophy will be awarded for best short film, which brings a $50,000 investment for a future project plus a five-month creative residency in Old Town, Jeddah.

The best short film prize is part of the Red Sea Shorts competition, featuring the most exciting contemporary voices from the Arab world, including student directors and first-time filmmakers.

The Golden Yusr Trophy takes its name from the black coral formations found off the Red Sea coast. An international competition to design the award will be announced shortly.

The details of the mentoring and production funds were also revealed, showcasing the festival’s commitment to promoting talent and daring storytelling in the Arab world.

The Bait Al-Montage Fund will support up to six Arab films with grants totaling $100,000. The grantees will be revealed during the Red Sea Souk, the festival’s industry days, taking place between March 13 and 17.

The festival will also support the Red Sea Lodge — an intensive five-month mentoring and training program for 12 teams of Arab filmmakers. Delivered in collaboration with TorinoFilmLab in the lead up to the 2020 festival, two participants will be awarded grants of $500,000 each following a pitch to a jury of industry leaders.

Also supporting production, the one-time Tamheed Fund will realize two new Saudi feature films, bestowing grants of $500,000 each. 

The enthusiasm of the local film scene was demonstrated by an overwhelming number of submissions, with “The Book of Sun” by Faris Godus and “Forty Years and a Night” by Mohammed Al-Holayyil selected. The films will be premiered at the festival.

The final production initiative is the $400,000 funding of a special omnibus of up to six short films made by Saudi women. The short films will be shown as a collective at the festival.