Saudi filmmakers suffer in a land with no movie theaters

Directors and others live for the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai, where their films about the oppressiveness of life in the Islamic kingdom can finally be seen in public.

Cruise the highways and boulevards of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and it appears all there in flash and neon: cool marble malls, Starbucks, plastic surgery clinics and enough bling to drain a billionaire's bank account. But no cineplex. Movies made here are hustled out of the country to be shown in foreign theaters, even as Hollywood imports can be rented at video stores or seen on any number of the 500 or so satellite channels.

"How can you change a society with film if your society can't go to the cinema?" says Turki Rwaita, the group's editor, who, like the other members, also acts, writes, produces and has a fondness for fast food and late nights. "Our main goal is the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai. That's what keeps us alive."

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Filmmaking, International Cinema


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