Yasir Al Yasiri’s hotly anticipated new Saudi fantasy romance film to launch the third edition of the RSIFF on Thursday 30 November
The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) is delighted to reveal the World Premiere of “HWJN” (2023), directed by Yasir Al Yasiri as the Opening Night Gala of 2023. Adapted from the best-selling Young Adult fantasy novel by Ibraheem Abbas, “HWJN” combines Arabian folklore elements of fantasy, blended with modern themes that is sure to enthrall both regional and international audiences. A co-production from Image Nation Abu Dhabi, MBC Studios and VOX Studios, “HWJN” demonstrates the progressive collaboration of creative voices shaping Saudi cinema. This screening will be introduced by the director and lead cast: Nour Alkhadra, Baraa Alem, Naif Aldaferi, Alanoud Saud, Mohsen Mansour and Shaimaa Al Tayeb.
Set in modern-day Jeddah, “HWJN” follows the story of a kind-hearted jinn. As he discovers the truth about his royal lineage, “HWJN” (Baraa Alem) sets off on an epic journey to reclaim his birthright, while battling ancient evils to maintain the harmonious balance between his world and ours. Along the way, he meets and develops an unexpected romantic connection with Sawsan (Nour Alkhadra), a young medical student.
“HWJN” is one of the biggest projects to date under a landmark production partnership launched in 2018 by Image Nation Abu Dhabi; MBC Studios, of MBC Group; and VOX Studios, three of the region’s most significant entities in the content and entertainment sector.
Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics for the Red Sea International Film Festival, said: “Opening the festival with a highly anticipated film like HWJN is a momentous event. “HWJN,” a Saudi film produced by major studios, is adapted from a highly successful novel and brings together many Saudi actors for an original story that will undoubtedly captivate our audience. With HWJN, Saudi cinema proves its capacity to bring together talents from across the Arab world at both the production and artistic levels. Through this choice, the Red Sea not only honors Saudi cinema but also all Arab talents, highlighting the remarkable progress that the Kingdom has witnessed in recent times.”
Yasir Al Yasiri, Director of “HWJN,” said: “The story of ‘HWJN’ is an epic tale of romance, adventure, and culture that has resonated with millions in Saudi and beyond. Bringing this beloved novel to life as a movie has been an extraordinary journey and a landmark achievement for regional cinema. It’s profoundly meaningful for us to open this year’s Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah – the city where HWJN’s story was born, and which plays a pivotal role in the narrative. This premiere is not just a tribute to the film’s journey, but also to Jeddah’s vibrant culture and history, which inspired us immensely. We are extremely proud of what we have created together and eagerly await the audience’s reaction to seeing it on the big screen.”
Yasir Al Yasiri is an Iraqi filmmaker. His first feature-length film, “Shabab Sheyab” (2018) received glowing reviews from both audiences and film critics. It had its world premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and continued to tour the international festival circuit. He followed it up with the box-office blockbuster “122” (2019).
The film was co-written by Yasir Al Yasiri, Ibraheem Abbas, Sarah Taibah, and Hussam Alhulwah,executive produced by Majid Al Ansari (Zinzana) and Saad Al Albutaily (Cherry), and produced by Yasiri’s production company, Axx productions. While the book was published by Yatakhayaloon, which is founded by Yasser Bahjatt and Ibraheem Abbas.
The Red Sea International Film Festival will run from 30 November – 9 December. Tickets for all film screenings are on sale on the RSIFF website: https://redseafilmfest.com/en/films-2023/
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.
About Image Nation Abu Dhabi
Image Nation Abu Dhabi is an award-winning film and entertainment company which has built its reputation on breaking boundaries and unleashing imagination. It creates films, TV series, documentaries, and entertainment for consumers throughout the world and is the first UAE company to have multiple productions stream globally on Netflix. Its success spans the globe, screening content at over 400 international film festivals and receiving the industry’s highest honours, including two Academy Awards, a BAFTA, and an Emmy.
Image Nation has a strong track record of producing high-quality productions through a combination of local talent and international expertise. The company encourages original thought and curiosity while providing a platform for inspiration and practical training through its robust development program, Arab Film Studio.
Its mission is to help build the film and entertainment industry across the GCC and MENA regions, a pioneering ambition in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision to shape a competitive, sustainable, and globally open economy. Image Nation enables all those who engage with it to become guardians of culture and ambassadors of change.
About VOX Studios
VOX Studios is committed to bringing premium Arabic content to the big screen. In December 2021, it made a commitment to produce 25 Arabic features film in five years and the following year revealed its debut slate of Arabic content. The diverse features titles from new and established filmmakers in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE including VOY! VOY! VOY!, which was selected as the Egyptian submission for Best International Feature Film at the 2024 Academy Awards.
About MBC Studios
MBC Studios is a leading global production powerhouse by MBC Group, born to realize and nurture the unrivalled storytelling potential of the Middle East region. With a rising demand for original Arabic content produced to international standards in the MENA region, MBC Studios is tapping into this evolving market by conceptualizing and producing the most compelling stories for cinema, television, and on-demand platforms.
MBC Studios also serves as a prominent hub for international productions seeking to film in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region, enabling global production houses to capture the unique essence and beauty of this remarkable region.
Today, MBC Studios continues to invest in Saudi talent and infrastructure, to encourage local investment in the region through creating employment opportunities and honing young Saudi talent throughout different stages of the production process.
Yatakhayaloon is a company founded by Yasser Bahjatt & Ibraheem Abbas to cultivate and nurture the Science Fiction culture across Arabia with the belief that Sci-Fi is the main driver behind scientific development in any region. Its first published novel, HWJN, sold more than 250,000 copies in Arabic and was downloaded more than 4M times and translated to 4 languages so far.