CEO of “Red Sea Cinema”: Saudi Arabia is heading for a distinguished position on the world cinema map

Muhammad Al-Turki promises filmmakers surprises for the next session

With great confidence, Muhammad Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, believes that Saudi Arabia is on its way to occupying a distinguished position on the map of world cinema, in his dialogue with Asharq Al-Awsat, against the background of the announcement by the Red Sea Festival Foundation. Film Festival” last week, announced his selection to be the CEO of the festival, whose second session will be held from December 1 to 10, in Jeddah.

About his vision for this mission, Mohammed Al-Turki says: “As a film producer, I look at cinema with eyes full of passion and love, but my task now, being at the head of the Foundation (Red Sea Film Festival), is to encourage art and creativity, and to provide full support to filmmakers, both in the Kingdom and the rest of the world, in the hope of pushing the industry and its prosperity, because The flourishing of cinema is the flourishing of civilization, culture and art, with the consequent human communication and interdependence between peoples.”

Al-Turki promises the filmmakers more support, adding: “I promise them to overcome the challenges facing the industry. I also promise them to work constantly to provide a fertile climate for the film industry, along with programs, activities and events that encourage the industry. I also promise them to build on the success of the first edition of the festival, which It will always and forever be the first incubator for their ambitions, creativity and cinematic projects. I am also happy to tell them that the Red Sea’s special programs, namely: the Red Sea Fund and the Sea Laboratory, address them in particular, with support and encouragement, on the material and technical levels.”

Upcoming surprises

Many filmmakers wonder: How will the new edition of the Red Sea Film Festival differ from the previous one? Al-Turki responds, indicating that the next session will host many surprises that will be announced at the appropriate time, as he sees it. Now, we are working in full swing, planning and preparing. We promise that these surprises will live up to the hopes and expectations.”

He continued his speech to Asharq Al-Awsat, saying: “We faced some challenges in light of our launch of the first session of the festival, and it can be said now with confidence that we have overcome them, exceeding all expectations, which motivates us to build on the success we have achieved, and accordingly, in the next session, it will be There are many surprises, activities and programmes, more guests and stars on our red carpet, more local, regional and international films that will shine in the festival’s private cinemas, in addition to more talent, and a lot of art and entertainment.”

world map

As to whether Saudi films can compete for festival awards, or if there is still a long way to go, Al-Turki answers decisively, saying: “Of course, Saudi cinema has come a long way worthy of admiration, culminated – for example – by hosting the (Venice Film Festival), in its seventy-sixth session. , for the movie (Our Lady of the Sea) 2019, by our creative director Shahd Amin. The festival itself, in its 69th session, hosted the movie (Wadjda) 2012, by our able director Haifaa Al-Mansour; And he won three awards.” He added, “We are aware that the journey of the prosperity of Saudi cinema is still continuing, due to its relative modernity, compared to some regional or international countries, and it is on its way to occupying a distinguished position on the map of world cinema, due to its features, language and cultural and social context of its own. We now see it glowing, in the light of (Vision 2030), of the Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

The call of passion

Muhammad Al-Turki has a unique story about entering the world of cinema, he tells: “It was a gateway to passion. I have been a lover and follower of films since my childhood. It was classic films, (Disney) films, (Cowboy) films, and the (James Bond) series of films. And others, which arouse my great admiration and interest, from videos to DVDs.” He adds: “My father was also one of the sources of nourishment for this passion. He was an avid watcher of movies. And then this passion developed, to taking some educational lessons about photography and film making during my high school.”

Regarding the university level, Al-Turki says: “Later, I mixed business administration and filmmaking between two double majors, and while I was involved in the labor market, far from the world of cinema, I kept waiting for the call that would fulfill my true passion, and that call was the film directed by Zina Dorra (The Imperialists Are Not Still Alive (2010), which was my entry into the world of filmmaking, and soon after that I made my way to being a producer.”

Al-Turki reached the world through Hollywood, which he entered through the gate of a public relations company, and here he says: “It helped introduce me as a Saudi producer in Hollywood, and my first project, fortunately, was one of the most successful projects I worked on, the film by director Nicholas Jarecki. (Arbitrageous) 2012, starring Richard Gere; It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

It is worth noting that Mohammed Al-Turki joined the team of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation in 2020, with the aim of supporting the growth of the film industry in Saudi Arabia, by focusing on initiatives and activities aimed at supporting the new generation of Saudi and Arab talents and creativity. In his new position as CEO of the Festival Foundation, Al-Turki is expected to continue working on building and developing the festival, after the great success of its inaugural session last December, which attracted more than 30,000 spectators and 3,155 film and media professionals from all over the world.