Saudi Arabia’s Ithra Film Productions banner has teamed up with prominent Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy (“Clash”) who will serve as a creative consultant on two upcoming projects by Saudi directors backed by the company, one of which Hefzy will produce through his Film Clinic shingle.
The two projects which were unveiled in Cannes by Ithra Film — which is a unit of The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, financed by Saudi Aramco Oil Company to promote cultural development — are “Valley Road,” a drama by emerging Saudi helmer Khalid Fahad about an autistic young man who gets lost on his way to see a doctor and the ensuing challenges, and “Sea of Sands,” a coming-of-age story centered around a young orphan Bedouin and a camel who form a special bond and embark on a journey across Saudi Arabia. Hefzy (pictured), who besides being a producer also heads the Cairo Film Festival, will produce “Sea,” for which a director has not yet been set.
The plan for both “Valley Road” and “Sea of Sands” is to be released in 2023. Besides the directors, the cast and crew for both films will consist of emerging Saudi talent. These titles will follow experimental 2018 Saudi film “Joud,” directed by Andrew Lancaster, which was Ithra’s first commissioned film.
“We are supporting the Kingdom’s growing film industry by nurturing homegrown talent and fostering cinema and filmmaking,” said Majed Z. Samman, head of performing arts and cinema at Ithra, who is the producer of both “Sea of Sands,” in tandem with Hefzy, and “Valley Road.”
Hefzy, who is in Cannes with Critics’ Week title “Feathers” by Omar El Zohairy, praised Ithra for playing a significant role in supporting independent filmmakers from Saudi Arabia at a critical time, just as the Kingdom’s booming film industry begins to take shape.
Aside from being a Saudi indie cinema driver on the production side, Ithra is also setting up training programs as part of an ongoing effort to take the country’s film industry to the next level. The center comprises one of the few art house cinemas in the region, as well as several other film-related companies and organizations.