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Debut Saudi pic puts focus on social themes

'How's It Going' stirs up fuss at fest

“Keif Al Hal” (How’s It Going), the first-ever full-length Saudi feature, will receive its world preem at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Pic, which details the struggle between moderates and religious extremists in one family, is helmed by Palestinian-Canadian Izidore Musallam and stars Saudi heartthrob Hisham Abdel-Rahman and the country’s first actress, Hind Mohammed.

Although cinemas are currently banned in Saudi Arabia, “Keif” has been stirring up a huge fuss, with local auds intrigued to see themselves on screen for the first time, says Ayman Al-Halawani, GM of Rotana Audiovisual, owned by Saudi Prince Walid Bin Talal, who produced the pic.

Pic is opening in neighboring Gulf countries and the rest of the Mideast in summer, as well as Paris, London and Cannes. It will air uncut on Rotana TV after its theatrical run.

Though its $1 million budget is modest by Western standards, the pic is punching above its weight in terms of social influencesparking local debates about whether cinemas should finally be allowed and if women should appear on screen without veils.

Al-Halawani is already in discussions with a number of foreign distribs, including from Europe and one request from India, to acquire the title.

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