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Saudi Arabian students to study filmmaking in India

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Cannes | Thursday, May 17 2018 IST
Saudi Arabian students may be heading to film schools in India next summer as the gulf nation opens up to cinema.

Saudi Arabia, which ended a ban on screening films in the country last month, is planning to create its own content for home audience. The move will soon see young students from Saudi Arabia going to study filmmaking abroad.

At the first country pavilion of Saudi Arabia at the Cannes film festival market, a decision has been taken to send a hundred young Saudi students to film schools in France, Germany and the United States. According to the newly-created Saudi Film Council, in the next phase of training, young Saudi Arabian students will study in India and Japan.

The Council said talent development partnerships with global film institutes have been finalised with film institutes, including the University of Southern California in the United States and the famous La Femis in France. The initiative aims at training aspiring and established Saudi filmmakers and includes a 'train the trainers' programme. This year, there will be summer camps in Saudi Arabia, Los Angeles and Paris covering the full spectrum of skills required for film production such as directing, editing, screenwriting, sound design, VR/AR and 2D/3D animation, the Council said yesterday. The Saudi Arabian pavilion is located in the Marche du Film, the film market of the Cannes festival, which began on May 8. The Saudi Film Council was launched in March this year under the country's General Culture Authority to develop performing arts, cinema, contemporary art and theatre.

The Saudi pavilion is a major attraction at the Cannes festival, drawing the Who's Who of the global film industry. Among the visitors to the pavilion were American actor John Travolta.

''We are very excited to mark our first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival and Marche du Film with the launch of initiatives that support our overall goals for talent development and film and content production in the Kingdom,'' said Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of the General Culture Authority, which oversees Saudi Film Council.

"They highlight two of our key pillars nurturing and empowering our rich talent pool of aspiring and established filmmakers and introducing the global industry to the world of opportunities the Kingdom has to offer, as we seek to build an industry that draws on our heritage and supports the unique needs of our country, while at the same time plays a vital role within the global film community," the CEO said.

The Council has also announced a 35 per cent cash rebate for international productions made in Saudi Arabia. An additional 17.5 per cent will be available for productions employing local talent. The rebate is expected to bring international productions to Saudi Arabia. Last month, Saudi Arabia allowed films into the country with a private screening of the Hollywood blockbuster 'Black Panther'. The country is now planning to set up 220 screens by 2022. Earlier, Saudi Arabians had to travel to the neighbouring United Arab Emirates to watch films. The initiative will provide a huge opportunity to screen Indian films in Saudi Arabia, which has a massive Indian immigrant population.

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