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Saudi Fantasy ‘HWJN’ to Open Red Sea Film Festival


Dubai-based Iraqi director Yasir Al-Yasiri’s “HWJN” has been chosen as the opening film of Saudi Arabia’s upcoming Red Sea International Film Festival. 

The fest’s third edition is set to run Nov. 30-Dec. 9 in Jeddah, on the Red Sea’s eastern shore, which is also the city where “HWJN” is set. The fantasy is based on the YA novel by Saudi writer Ibraheem Abbas which was a local literary phenomenon due to its pioneering combination of Western sci-fi tropes and Arabic culture and folklore.

Set in modern-day Jeddah, “HWJN” follows the story of a kind-hearted jinn – as invisible creatures in pre-Islamic Arabia and later in Islamic culture and beliefs are known – as he discovers the truth about his royal lineage. The protagonist, named Baraa Alem, goes on an epic journey to reclaim his birthright and maintain his mental balance between the human and supernatural worlds.

“HWJN” is one of the biggest projects spawned by a landmark production partnership launched in 2018 between Emirati outfit Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Saudi-owned MBC Studios and Middle East exhibitor Vox Cinemas’ Vox Studios production arm. They are three of the region’s top entities in the content and entertainment sector.

The Nov. 30 premiere in Jeddah will be introduced by the director and lead cast members Nour Alkhadra, Baraa Alem Naif Aldaferi, Alanoud Saud, Mohsen Mansour and Shaimaa Al Tayeb.

“Opening the festival with a highly anticipated film like ‘HWJN’ is a momentous event,” said Antoine Khalife, the fest’s director of arab programs and film classics in a statement. “With ‘HWJN,’ Saudi cinema proves its capacity to bring together talents from across the Arab world at both the production and artistic levels. Through this choice, the Red Sea not only honors Saudi cinema but also all Arab talents, highlighting the remarkable progress that the Kingdom has witnessed in recent times.”

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