While Egypt is still the undisputed center of regional cinema the Kingdoms goal is in analysis to compete for that title and more.We have the stories and the foundations that are very continuous the culture the talent the theaters we have it all there awardwinning Saudi producer and director Aymen Khoja told Arab News during this years Cannes Film Festival. year. . When everything is aligned we will go far.
Khoja studied at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles and worked in the film industry for a decade directing for MBC Studios VIU Amazon Prime and many more.Its mission he says is to bring local stories to life on an international scale. Hes already had some success in that regard as a producer on Hamzah Jamjooms Rupture a psychological thriller with an international cast that won Best Saudi. Film award at the first Red Sea Film Festival last year.
Our culture and traditions are different from any other region even from other neighboring countries. We have a lot of diversity and I think people are curious Egyptians my friends Moroccans and the world want to know more about us Khoja told Arab News in Cannes last month shortly after attending the March Du Film Conference. discuss the situation of Arab cinema. We have been in contact for 70 years 80 years and nothing on us. foreign directors told stories about us but we never talked. Today we are talking and I find it very exciting.
With industry support from Saudi Vision 2030 Saudi Film Commission Red Sea Film Festival and Ithra among others many Saudi talents have begun to pursue their ambitions of sharing Saudi culture on the big screen. And Khoja is optimistic about his prospects. Were going to be one of the biggest movie markets in the world maybe the top three. I think theyll be there he said. There are over 400 million people in the Arab region we can force ourselves to watch our movies.
Khoja started his production company in hopes of promoting the Kingdoms film industry.I appreciate all the companies Ive worked with in the past and learned a lot but since Rupture won the award I decided it was time.There is a void in Saudi cinema – especially as I am filming in Saudi Arabia – and it fills that void. I want my company to be the pride of Saudi cinema in the future focusing on the quality of Saudi content he said.
Khoja explained that he hopes to only produce one or two feature films a year with his company focusing on quality rather than quantity. He added that a criticism of common content is that it lacks the quality of Egypt or Hollywood especially when it comes to performance. Im afraid that audiences wont trust Saudi films if we continue to make shoddy films. I want to make sure that from now on our healthy content is 100% better. In a few years we want to compete with the Egyptians and the Americans.
Looking at the market today directors have incredible talent. But when they arrive on a film set they dont know the solutions they dont know how to talk to actors he continued. to deal with it they can do much better.Right now while its still so young to come out and local audiences are still local local movies just are Khoja said. And that can quickly become a problem he believes.As a Saudi director we appreciate the support but I want Saudis to come and see the film because they and Saudis want to enjoy it.
He believes genuine support for the Saudi public is essential to the success of the local industry. To achieve this however theaters and producers need to focus on creating highquality productions rather than just producing movies. There is no reason why a Saudi film should not be better than an Egyptian or American film. The narration is the most important thing