The Red Sea Market aims to become a major cinematic market for the Middle East and North Africa with a booming domestic box office

The Red Sea Market, the four-day film market of the Red Sea Film Festival, is positioning itself as a major film market in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The second edition of this year includes two development competitions, a work-in-progress competition, and the Red Sea 360-degree event, which is being held in cooperation with Winston Baker, with 13 industrial committees.

Selected projects for development and PIC competitions will compete for $400,000 in Red Sea Fund prizes, in addition to sponsor prizes of $430,000 in cash and $126,000 in kind.

Last year’s first edition witnessed more than 3,500 accredited professionals and regulators in this field who expect an even greater turnout this year, with executives from 46 countries.

Attendees include international sales agents, distributors, festival programmers, and a 30-person team from Netflix, with the streamer taking part in two industry sessions.

The Red Sea Market is integrated within the broader strategy of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation to create an ecosystem for the development, production and distribution of films from Saudi Arabia and the wider region. This includes the $10 million Red Sea Film Fund, which catalyzes a growing network of co-production partners within the region and in Europe.

The background to this strategy is the booming Saudi box office, which reached $238 million in 2021, up 95% compared to 2020, and is expected to rise to $1 billion by 2030.

“Cinema in this region is expanding a lot,” explains Managing Director Shivani Pandya Malhotra. “There are a lot of films that need funding, which makes the Red Sea market a very dynamic place.”

The box office in Saudi Arabia and across the region showcases American films and films from Egypt, India and Asia. The Red Sea Film Corporation believes that this provides huge potential for the growth of Saudi productions and co-productions.

The fruits of the Red Sea Fund’s investments are evident in the many projects presented in the market, as well as in the various sections of the Red Sea Public Festival.

For example, the first feature film by Tunisian director Lotfi Nathan, “Harka”, was shown in the Work-in-Progress competition in the market last year, and is now being shown in the official competition at the Red Sea Film Festival, after winning the Best Actor award in Cannes Un. some regards.

“The Red Sea Fund is very focused on the Middle East and Africa,” says Malhotra. “We are very inclusive of Africa. We want to include them – and that is reflected in the projects coming to market, as well as the main festival. We also aim to be inclusive of Asia.”

This year’s edition witnessed a significant increase in the applications submitted for the development and work-in-progress departments in the Red Sea market, with 200 and 70 applications, respectively.

There are 21 projects in the two development competitions – 11 in the Red Sea Inn section and 12 in the Red Sea Market section.

The Project Market jury will be chaired by Belgian producer/director Aurélien Bodinaux, in addition to Tunisian producer Habib Attia and Jordanian producer Rola Nasser.

The WIPO Giona Program Jury is chaired by Ms. The stunning Arabic sidebar of the Red Sea Festival.

The Red Sea Lodge section is the result of an intensive 10-month residency program organized by Red Sea Laboratories in collaboration with TorinoFilmLab. Each project has a writer, director and producer, and during the 10-month program had the opportunity to work with industry experts.

11 Lodge projects will now present their final bids. Two projects will be shortlisted for the annual Red Sea Lodge Production Award – a grant of $100,000 for each of the two pictures, from the Red Sea Fund, as well as the opportunity for an Arab premiere of their films at the Red Sea Film Festival.

The Lodge’s projects include six pictures from Saudi Arabia, two from Egypt, two from Algeria, and one from Lebanon, with genres including drama, romance, satire, comedy, black comedy, documentaries, and elevated horror.

A separate Red Sea Market development competition includes 12 projects, including two from Morocco, two from Iraq and one each from Egypt, Cameroon, Palestine, Lebanon, Ghana, South Africa and Syria. Genres include drama, comedy, surreal comedy, black comedy, historical epic, war, fantasy, crime, thriller, documentaries, and thrillers.

Estimated budgets for these development projects range from $400,000 to $4.5 million. Some already have half of their budget.

There are six films competing in the Red Sea exhibition of work in progress, with two from Morocco, and one each from Senegal, Jordan, South Africa and Yemen. Genres include drama, documentaries, and black comedy.

Production budgets are between $90,000 and $2 million, with between 50% and 90% of the financing already secured.

Myriam Arab, Principal Consultant at The Red Sea Market, says she is pleased with the projects of these three competitions. “The average age of filmmakers is between 30 and 35. This is a new generation. They are not describing their world in a new way without forgetting the classic cinema. We can clearly see that a new wave is coming. This is a generation that can make a movie for Netflix or another streaming platform.” , while also competing in festivals dedicated to auteur films. They see no boundaries. They are very free artists.

The sponsors of the Awards Sponsor are the Arab Cinema Center (ACC), Arab Radio and Television Network (ART), Cinemafilm, Laith Productions, MAD Solutions, MBC Academy / Shahid, Oticons, The Cell Studios, and Titrafilm.

Among the Middle Eastern distributors who will be attending the market are five from Saudi Arabia (Sour Arabia, Cinema, NStar, Telfaz 11, MBC/Shahid), seven from Lebanon (Cinemuse, Eagle Film, Empire, Falcon, Four Star, Front Row). , Italy and Metropolis), three from Egypt (Arab Art Radio and Television Network, MAD Solutions and Egypt International), and two from Dubai (Gulf Film, Majid Al Futtaim).

The second edition of the market includes the new Red Sea 360º event, featuring a comprehensive collection of 13 industry panels, as well as keynote presentations and talks held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, home of the Red Sea Film Festival and the Red Sea Market. .

Issues to be addressed include sales and distribution, international co-productions, funding and investment in content, broadcasting, storytelling in the metaverse, and opportunities across the Arab region.

The highlight is Women in Cinema, featuring top female executives on panels, such as Rola Nasser, Jennifer Haddad, Adrosia Apana, Charlene Dillion-Jones, and Souad Bouchenak.

Other panelists include New Regency’s Michael Schaefer, Wild Bunch’s Vincent Marval, Cinemoz’s Karim Safieddine, Film Mode Entertainment’s Clay Epstein, producer Donald Kushner, and Michael Uslan, the producer behind the “Batman” franchise.

Other executive speakers include Lux Studio, Fine Alternative Investments, Surfund, Curiosity Entertainment, Elysian Film Group and festival partners such as NEOM, MBC Group, Majid Al Futtaim, Vox Cinemas, the Saudi Film Authority and AlUla Cinema.

Finally, the networking sessions, featuring 82 industry professionals, will provide opportunities for newcomers and emerging filmmakers to network and network with key industry players during quick 15-minute meetings.

The Red Sea Market takes place from December 3 to 6. The Red Sea Festival runs until December 10.

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