The Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) has announced Edouard Waintrop as its artistic director ahead of the inaugural edition in November, 2021.
This is a coup for the event given Waintrop’s standing on the circuit. The former critic was Director of Cannes’ parallel strand Directors’ Fortnight from 2012 – 2018.
Also joining the RSIFF team as Special Program Manager is Faizah Ambah, the writer-director and former Washington Post correspondent.
Waintrop will join a team of programmers including film critic Kaleem Aftab (Director of International Programming), Antoine Khalife (Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics), and Mohyee Qari (Program Manager).
The programming team is also adding Marta Balaga, Alice Kharoubi, Leigh Singer, Carmen Thompson, Badih Massaad, and Kim Young-Woo as programming consultants.
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Julie Bergeron is returning to the RSIFF as Red Sea Souk Consultant, moving from her previous role as Head of Red Sea Souk. Bergeron has been head of industry programs at the Cannes Marché du Film as well as the project manager of its Ventana Sur Latin American offshoot.
This year’s Festival will be held from 11 to 20 November 2021 in Jeddah Old Town, Saudi Arabia. Last year’s first edition had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus.
Waintrop said: “It is a great privilege and honor to be leading the Red Sea International Film Festival. This new and great Festival will celebrate all aspects of cinema, from the creatives telling stories to the technical craftspeople putting imaginative ideas onto the big screen, celebrating filmmaking as force for positive change. The Festival is set to reflect that metamorphosis and to be the place for the leaders and visionaries of Arab cinema, both established and emerging, to meet, celebrate successes, and look forward to a bright future.”
The November 2021 Festival is led by a team of Saudi and international curators, film specialists, and industry veterans, including Managing Director Shivani Pandya. Jumana Zahid heads the Red Sea Lodge, the Foundation’s incubator for Saudi and Arab filmmakers, now in its second edition.
The Red Sea Souk, the Festival’s industry platform for distributors, sales agents, and producers, is helmed by Zain Zedan (Industry/Souk Manager). The operations team is led by Ibrahim Modir (Head of Shared Services).
The eleven program sections will showcase contemporary international and Arab cinema, Saudi features, shorts and experimental films, retrospectives, and future-oriented AR and VR experiences.