Award-Winning Outfit Vertigo Films Behind "Monsters," "Bronson" and "Britannia" to Support AlUla Creates Saudi Women Director Programme
Film AlUla, the Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency, today launches ‘AlUla Creates’ short film competition, joined by acclaimed production company Vertigo Films (“Monsters,” “Britannia,” “Bronson”), award-winning Saudi Filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour (“The Perfect Candidate,” “Wadjda”) and internationally renowned director, producer and actor Katie Holmes (“Rare Objects,” “Alone Together,” “Batman Begins”). Vertigo Films and Film AlUla will helm the competition to support and establish three Saudi women directors in the international marketplace.
Vertigo Films has a longstanding history of discovering and supporting new talent since launching in 2002, with a number of their films and HETV productions kick-starting the international careers of leading names, including Tom Hardy (Bronson), Gareth Edwards (Monsters), Vanessa Kirby (“Kill Command”), Sofia Boutella (“StreetDance 2”), Tom Shankland (“The Children”), Nicholas Winding Refn (“Bronson”) and Issa Lopez (“Britannia”).
Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom. She is an award-winning director, with her 2019 feature film A Perfect Candidate, appearing at film festivals all across the world, including Sundance, and winning best film at both the London Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. Al-Mansour has seen critical acclaim and multiple awards across her films including her debut feature film “Wadjda,” which was both the first to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female director, as well as regency drama “Mary Shelley” starring Elle Fanning.
‘AlUla Creates’ is a platform designed to nurture creativity and empower and engage future generations in film, the arts and fashion. Rolling out its second phase of the AlUla filmmaking mentoring programme this opportunity will provide the filmmakers with mentorship from renowned industry professionals and the tools to further develop their projects with the aim of shaping the industry of the future,
Submissions for the AlUla Creates competition open today until August 31st 2023, during which Saudi women filmmakers can apply to be part of the programme in the hopes of working with Vertigo Films, Haifaa Al Mansour, Katie Holmes and the Film AlUla team to create a short film, shot in AlUla. Entrants of all experience are encouraged to submit a piece of audio-visual work they have directed, alongside a synopsis of the short film idea, they would like to develop.
This expert panel of industry professionals, including Vertigo Films, Film AlUla, Actress and Director, Katie Holmes and Saudi Filmmaker, Haifaa Al Mansour will evaluate the submissions; assessing their originality, creativity, thematic depth, character development, and their potential to engage and captivate audiences. A shortlist of filmmakers will be invited to pitch directly to the panel before the final three filmmakers are selected.
To complete their 10-minute short films, the winning three filmmakers will receive a $20,000 production grant, three-months of mentoring and training, additional funding for treatment development, and on-the ground support throughout the filmmaking process. The filmmakers will also be flown to London to learn about the international marketplace, meeting with key sales, distribution, post and VFX companies, with each of the filmmakers also being supported through submissions to local and international film festivals.
Further information on the criteria and how to submit can be found here:
Charlene Deleon-Jones, Executive Director at Film AlUla, said: “As we continue to develop our AlUla Creates initiative and secure more incredible mentors like the trailblazing Haifaa Al Mansour, we are delighted to welcome Vertigo Films as a partner for the film phase of programme. Their unparalleled experience as producers and remarkable track record in discovering and supporting up and coming talent will be vital as we strive to provide a platform for the next generation of Saudi women filmmakers. We are very much looking forward to engaging with the submissions and seeing the phenomenal stories that are waiting to be told on the international stage.”
Jane Moore, Exec Producer and CEO at Vertigo Films, added: “At Vertigo, we feel passionately about empowering female creatives in our industry, and the Film AlUla Creates Programme presents a genuine opportunity to amplify the voices and artistic talents of Saudi female filmmakers on the global stage. By providing a platform for their unique perspectives and craft, we aim to develop their professional growth and nurture their creative identity. With young people of Saudi Arabia only recently experiencing cinema for the first time, it’s exciting to be involved in AlUla’s movement to become a major film and TV hub and will be immensely rewarding to be part of the journey of the talented women selected for this programme and to see them flourish in the industry through their ambitious short films.”
Haifaa Al Mansour, added: “I am beyond thrilled to be working with Al Ula Creates to help build and support the coming generation of filmmakers in my home country of Saudi Arabia. When I first started making films the idea of working as a female Saudi director seemed outlandish. But I knew that the world was curious to hear from us, to hear our side of the story, and that films from home would strike a chord with audiences around the world. Now, working on a program like this to foster and support upcoming female artists in Saudi Arabia feels just as unbelievable. It is an incredible honour for me, and such a wonderful opportunity to meet so many other talented filmmakers. I am so excited to see the infrastructure of a cinematic industry being built here to help realize our creative visions and beyond.”
The first phase of ‘AlUla Creates’ launched in March 2023 alongside the 95th Academy Awards with a focus on fashion. Ambassadors Mila Al Zahrani, Helena Christensen and Eva Herzigova partnered with Saudi female fashion designers, sister duo, Alia and Abeer Olaif of Atelier Hekayat and Arwa Al Ammari of ArAm to design bespoke looks, supported by British fashion designer Emilia Wickstead, for The Oscars Vanity Fair red carpet in LA and the Cannes Film Festival. All three women will continue on in their role as Ambassadors for the AlUla Creates programme; supporting emerging female creative talent from the region, and forming an integral part of the project’s future plans. The Saudi designers will also be part of the film phase, working on the selected projects to design and create the costumes, working closely with the filmmaker to bring the story to life.
About Film AlUla
Film AlUla is The Royal Commission for AlUla’s film agency, established to promote and support international film and TV production in the County of AlUla, located in northwest Saudi Arabia. Its aim is to position AlUla as an international filming destination and develop the services, facilities, and infrastructure in the region to create a film-friendly ecosystem.
About Vertigo Films
Vertigo Films is a film and TV production company which, over its 21-year history has made over 40 films and TV shows including Monsters, Bronson, StreetDance, The Sweeney, Britannia, Mammals and Bulletproof and most recently A Town Called Malice. Many of its films have been box office number ones and critical hits and Vertigo’s first two TV shows went to three seasons each and sold around the world. As well as its expertise in production, the company built post production, VFX, distribution and sales companies, giving it an expertise in sales, marketing and post production.