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in Filmmaking
on Jul 17, 2006

Via Netribution, “The first Saudi Arabian film festival opened in the Red Sea city of Jeddah this week, in an ultra-conservative country where the silver screen is so controversial that the word ‘cinema’ does not even get a mention in the title. ‘The Jeddah Visual Show Festival’ started on Wednesday night screening two hours of home-grown short films.”

The article goes on to talk about the slow birth of cinema in Saudi Arabia — namely, cartoons and the short films shown at this festival.

From the piece:

Public screenings of movies are taboo in Saudi Arabia, where religious scholars believe any depiction of the human form is forbidden in Islam and where the U.S.-dominated film industry, with films often depicting sex and violence, is seen as an immoral force.

Saudi Arabia is deeply conscious that it is the birthplace of Islam and shuns activity that is commonplace in other parts of the world. Cinemas, for example, could allow mixing of unrelated young men and women, seen as sinful by Saudia’s Wahhabi religious establishment

The new festival suggests that even devout Saudi Arabia is having to re-evaluate what should or should not be forbidden. At a news conference the festival, director Mishael al-Enazi said, “The Ministry of Information and Culture said let’s not call it cinema, that could imply God knows what — let’s say ‘visual shows.’ We hope that showing these short films will lead to more acceptance of cinema.”

I think that we in the U.S. should start using the phrase “visual shows” to describe some of what’s in our cinemas.

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