THE Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, also showcasing Pakistani films, marks a significant moment in the cultural metamorphosis of Saudi Arabia and the ascendancy of Pakistani cinema on the global stage. The event is not just a celebration of film but a symbol of the profound changes in Saudi Arabia’s societal norms and its growing acceptance of diverse artistic expressions. A decade ago, the Saudi Film Festival represented a nascent cinematic culture in a country where public screenings were taboo. Today, the grandeur of the Red Sea Film Festival, established in 2021, reflects Saudi Arabia’s dynamic cultural evolution. This transformation, part of a changing vision at the top, signifies a shift from a conservative past to a future that embraces global arts and cultures. The inclusion of Pakistani films like In Flames and Wakhri — One of a Kind at this prestigious event is a proud moment for Pakistan. These films, along with shorts Solatia and Eid Mubarak, highlight the maturation of Pakistan’s film industry and its readiness to engage with international audiences. In Flames, Pakistan’s official Oscars entry, has already garnered international acclaim, while Wakhri offers a poignant exploration of societal challenges.
Cinema, in both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, has wrestled with societal and political constraints. The showcasing of Pakistani films in Saudi Arabia, therefore, is not just a cultural exchange but a mirror to the parallel paths both nations have traversed in the realms of art and expression. For Pakistani filmmakers, the festival opens doors to new global markets, presenting opportunities to project their narratives worldwide. This moment should be a catalyst for further nurturing Pakistan’s film industry, encouraging investment, and supporting storytellers. As we laud our filmmakers’ achievements in Jeddah, it is crucial to recognise this moment as a call to further nurture and invest in Pakistan’s cinema. The global stage awaits; it is time for Pakistani stories to be heard far and wide.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2023