Cinema Nights 2024: Saudi rediscovers cinema six years after ban is lifted

Cinema Nights 2024: Saudi rediscovers cinema six years after ban is lifted

Following a 35 year hiatus, cinema culture in the Kingdom has gone from strength to strength and Saudi Cinema Nights is an example
22 April 24
The Rebirth of Cinema in Saudi

Its undeniable that in recent years Saudi Arabia has wholly embraced cinema.

The nation has been actively making strides in the film industry, from hosting internationally attended annual film festivals to debuting documentaries that capture iconic moments in the nation's recent history on Netflix, and even a Saudi-made film being chosen to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, a first in the nation's history.

And, with the establishment of a respected film-making hub in AlUla, the Kingdom is rapidly and proactively making its mark and catching up on the years of industry experience it once missed out on.

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A Pivotal Change

The reopening of cinemas in April of 2018 following a 35 year hiatus where cinema and film was banned, marked a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia's cultural transformation, as the Kingdom embraces and celebrates diverse forms of entertainment and artistic expression.

In just six years since the reopening of cinemas across the Kingdom, the landscape of cinema in Saudi Arabia has undergone a remarkable transformation.

From a dormant industry to a pivotal cultural force, cinema now holds a significant position both internationally and domestically. The rapid growth of cinema openings throughout the Kingdom, coupled with the establishment of annual events like Saudi Cinema Nights, underscores the burgeoning interest and enthusiasm of the public nationwide.

Saudi Cinema Nights 2024

Inaugurated in 2021, Saudi Cinema Nights is a month-long film event that is representative of a close collaborative effort between the esteemed Red Sea Film Festival and the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.

Open to the public and running until May 23, this film event promises an array of exclusive screenings featuring eagerly awaited Saudi features and a selection of short films, each dipping into a diverse array of genres. A whole weekend in May (10th & 11th) will be dedicated to showcasing short films.

Celebrating emerging talents from both local and international spheres, Saudi Cinema Nights also offers attendees the unique opportunity to engage in Q&A sessions with each director following the screenings.

One to Watch

The first homegrown feature to be filmed entirely in AlUla will be screened for audiences on May 2. The RSIFF winner, Norah, directed by Tawfik Alzaidi, Norah is the perfect example of the Kingdom's homegrown talent in the film industry. The entire production was shot in the breathtaking surrounds of AlUla — a first in the region and film industry — stars Yaqoub Alfarhan, Maria Bahrawi, and Abdullah Alsadhan.

Norah follows the journey of Nader in 1990s Saudi Arabia. A new teacher in a remote village, Nader meets Norah, meeting sparks an awakening of artistic passion within both, as Nader discovers his creativity and Norah finds the world beyond her village. The story explores their soulful connection and the life-altering impact it has on their artistic spirits.

This screening is expected to be the last showcase of the Saudi production before its debut at the Cannes Film Festival this summer, marking a first and historic moment for Saudi cinema.

Tickets from SAR 35,
Every Thursday until May 23, from 9pm to 11pm
Diriyah Auditorim, JAX District, Diriyah
/ Riyadh
Buy your tickets here