Film on extremism wins at Saudi festival

Film, on, extremism, wins, at, Saudi festivalAFP

Saudi actor Mohammed Al-Qess waves his award for best actor in the film The Departings during the closing ceremony of the 4th Saudi Film Festival in Dammam

A short film that tackles extremism has won the top prize at the Saudi Film Festival, organisers said on Sunday, in an ultra-conservative kingdom that continues to ban public cinemas.

Departures, directed by Abdulaziz al-Shalahei, won the golden palm award at the fourth edition of the festival, which featured 58 homegrown films including 12 directed by women.

“The festival is growing as the level of films is improving,” its director Ahmed al-Mulla said, adding that several contenders this year addressed extremism.

Departures features a conversation on a plane between an extremist thinking of blowing himself up and a terminally ill man who is tempted to commit suicide.

Saudi-based Syrian actor Mohammed al-Qass, who plays the role of the sick man, also won the prize for best actor.

The festival, which concluded late Saturday, included four competitions for fiction films, documentaries, student productions, and unproduced scripts.

The festival was held in a large marquee in Dhahran, in Eastern Province, as public cinemas do not exist in the Islamic kingdom.

“We hope that we will have cinemas soon,” Mulla said.

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