International Spectacular Strand also brings films from Sofia Coppola, Ava Duvernay, John Woo and Hayao Miyazaki to the region.
The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) has announced that this year’s Closing Night Gala will be “Ferrari,” the new biopic from maestro Michael Mann and starring Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley and Patrick Dempsey, as well as unveiling the International Spectacular line-up for its third edition, which selects cinema from around the globe and features celebrated auteurs and international filmmaking icons. This section showcases some of the most highly anticipated and talked about films of the year, screened for the first time in the Arab world.
Set in the summer of 1957, behind the spectacle of Formula 1, ex-racer Enzo Ferrari is in crisis. Bankruptcy threatens the factory he and his wife, Laura, built from nothing ten years earlier. Their volatile marriage is shattered by the loss of their son, Dino. Ferrari struggles to acknowledge his son Piero with Lina Lardi. Meanwhile, his drivers’ passions to win pushes them to the edge as they launch into the treacherous 1,000-mile race across Italy, the Mille Miglia. With a screenplay by Troy Kennedy Martin, Ferrari has been adapted from the 1991 biography Enzo Ferrari: The Man, the Cars, the Races, the Machine by motorsport journalist Brock Yates, and plays in the Red Sea IFF as a MENA Premiere on Thursday 7 December.
Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea Film Foundation said: “It is a great honor to announce that our Closing Night Gala will be one of this year’s most anticipated films. “Ferrari” by legendary director Michael Mann. This exhilarating film has been close to the Festival’s ‘heart’, as it has been supported by our Red Sea International Film Financing; a vehicle for us to champion acclaimed storytellers and create the opportunity for cultural exchange. Michael Mann’s powerful film shows true craftsmanship and empathy for the ambitious genius behind one of the world’s most desired works of design.”
Kaleem Aftab, Director of International Programming for the Red Sea International Film Festival, says: “Ferrari is Michael Mann in overdrive. It’s a story about passion, love, and business where the cars are as beautiful as the film – which we loved from the moment we first saw it! This visually rich film serves as an exhilarating close to both this year’s Festival and the International Strand, for which we have gathered up the most exciting, groundbreaking and moving features from this year’s festival circuit to bring to audiences at the Red Sea in Jeddah, where these titles will celebrate their MENA premieres. We are honored to have the work of so many iconic filmmakers, giving us new perspectives on race, belonging, identity and family.”
The International Spectacular brings together further firsts of new cinema, with highlights that include Sofia Coppola’s critically acclaimed biopic Priscilla, Ava Duvernay’s powerful drama Origin based on non-fiction bestseller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, screening with Yann Mounir Demange’s poetic exploration of identity Dammi with Riz Ahmed in the lead role of this short. The section also features action auteur John Woo’s Silent Night, Léa Domenach’s Bernadette (The President’s Wife), which sees Catherine Deneuve starring as iconic French first lady Bernadette Chirac, and iconic Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki’s most recent film The Boy and the Heron, to screen as the Public Closing Film.
Tickets for all film screenings at the Red Sea International Film Festival are available on the RSIFF website: https://redseafilmfest.com/en/
Red Sea International Film Festival: Closing Night Gala
Dir. Michael Mann
United States of America (USA)
It is the summer of 1957. Behind the spectacle of Formula 1, ex-racer Enzo Ferrari is in crisis. Bankruptcy threatens the factory he and his wife, Laura, built from nothing ten years earlier. Their volatile marriage is battered by the loss of their son, Dino. Ferrari struggles to acknowledge another with Lina Lardi. Meanwhile, his drivers’ passions to win pushes them to the edge as they launch into the treacherous 1,000-mile race across Italy, the Mille Miglia.
Red Sea International Film Festival: International Spectacular
Dir. Sofia Coppola
United States of America (USA)
When schoolgirl Priscilla Beaulieu meets rock’n’roll superstar Elvis Presley at a party during his military service in Germany, she is immediately drawn into his private world. He needs an ally in his loneliness; she is thrilled to be the confidant of the idol of her generation. Back in America, she moves into Graceland and sits by the phone so that Elvis can always reach her from Hollywood or wherever he is touring; meanwhile, he is sliding into his addiction to pills. Based on Priscilla Presley’s memoir, the film lifts a dark curtain on the unseen side of a great American myth in Elvis and Priscilla’s long courtship and turbulent marriage in this deeply felt and ravishingly detailed portrait of love, fantasy, fame and abuse.
Dir. Ava Duvernay
United States of America (USA), India, Germany
A bold work, Origin confirms director Ava DuVernay (Selma) as one of cinema’s great chroniclers of race relations. Adapted from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents, which itself had its origins in an article Wilkerson wrote about the murder of Trayvon Martin, it follows the journalist’s deep dive into the history and dynamics of oppression. Initially, Wilkerson (Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor) tells editor Amari (Blair Underwood) that her days as an investigative journalist are over. Once she gets her teeth into it, however, she starts to make revelatory connections between modern-day America, Nazi Germany and the Indian caste system. Duvernay brings these to life using flashbacks and historical dramatizations, creating a film that is uniquely provocative, challenging and enthralling. A must-see.
THE BOY AND THE HERON
Dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Mahito, a young 12-year-old boy, struggles to settle in a new town after his mother’s death. However, when a talking heron informs Mahito that his mother is still alive, he enters an abandoned tower in search of her, which takes him to another world.
Dir. John Woo
United States of America (USA)
From the producers of John Wick comes legendary Hong Kong director Woo’s first American project in 20 years – and one of his boldest. A gritty revenge tale featuring his trademark “bullet ballet” and “gun-fu” stylings, it also has no dialogue: the thrill-a-minute story is told entirely with visuals and music. Joel Kinnaman plays a tormented father who witnesses his young son die in the crossfire during a gang fight. While recovering from a wound that has cost him his voice, he makes vengeance his life’s mission, undertaking a punishing training regime before taking on the worst of the city’s criminal underworld on Christmas Eve. A massive return to form for the pioneering director, who redefines the genre he helped create.
BERNADETTE (THE PRESIDENT’S WIFE)
Dir. Léa Domenach
In her 2001 book Conversations, Bernadette Chirac described her long marriage to the French president, Jacques Chirac, as “not just a marriage of love, but a marriage of ambition.” Having worked behind the scenes to push her husband’s career and endured his endless affairs, she thought when he was elected in 1995, she would get the position she deserved. Instead, she found herself pushed to the side because opinion polls showed that the public found her cold and unapproachable. Her revenge was to turn herself into a major media figure, impeccably dressed by Karl Lagerfeld. Catherine Deneuve, the grande dame of French cinema, plays Bernadette in this sprightly political satire as a woman truly coming into her own.
Dir. Yann Mounir Demange
France, United Kingdom
Returning from the United Kingdom to Paris, city of his birth, a man who used to be known as Mounir (Riz Ahmed) moves through memories of his past and surreal fragments of the present, searching for connection with his estranged father (Yousfi Henine) and a sense of his misplaced Arab identity. On his journey, he meets a French Algerian woman called Hafzia (Souheila Yacoub) whose own persona suggests to him a possible way of being. Together, they drift between recognizable corners of Paris and stage sets that remind us this is a discussion of ideas, while the narrative also moves between fictional realism and a dream where dancing troupes appear out of the fog. All these fractured moments fit together to form a fascinating picture of internal strife.
CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET
Dir. Sam Fell
Fans of the first Chicken Run will remember how Ginger the plucky hen led her flock to freedom from evil Mrs. Tweedy’s battery farm. Now she has found her life’s dream: a peaceful island sanctuary, far from the dangers of the finger-lickin’ human world, where she and cocky Rocky can raise their chick Molly. Back on the mainland, however, all of chicken-kind faces a new horror: a farm so deceptively alluring that bird-brained poultry flock there voluntarily – only to get the chop. When Molly falls into this bird-trap, Ginger and her team go full Mission Impossible to get her out. “Last time, we broke out of a chicken farm,” says Ginger, rallying the troops. “Well, this time, we’re breaking in!”
About the Red Sea International Film Festival
The Red Sea International Film Festival celebrates the best of Saudi, Arab, and international cinema in Jeddah. The Festival’s film programme includes diverse types and categories of films from across the globe, ranging from hidden treasures restored with cutting-edge screening technology, to films from promising talents. Through its platform, the Festival hosts a selection of artistic talents, filmmakers, and industry professionals from the Arab world and beyond, along with film competitions in the feature and short films categories, concerts, masterclasses, and workshops aimed at supporting, developing, and encouraging emerging talent.