Jeddah’s Hayy Cinema Celebrates One-Year Milestone with Nawartuna
Art Jameel, the independent organisation that supports artists and nurtures creative communities, celebrates the one-year anniversary of launching Hayy Cinema at Hayy Jameel, Jeddah’s home for the arts, marked by a collaborative programme with Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF). This milestone is marked by a year of engagement with the local community which included more than 180 Saudi, regional and International films screened across thematic programmes, graduation screenings, festivals and competitions.
The celebration unfolds with an exclusive, free exhibition titled ‘Nawartuna: The Illuminating Legacy of Asmahan and Farid Al Atrash’ (December 4, 2023 – January 11, 2024) and a screening of a meticulously restored Egyptian classic, Victory of Youth (1941), debuting on December 3, 2023, from 6 pm; [Registration required here]. The exhibition presents rare archival material encompassing original posters, unique images and personal belongings, shared in public for the first time and paying a poignant tribute to the enduring contributions of these legendary figures. Asmahan and Farid Al Atrash made an indelible mark on both the music and film industry, particularly in the Arab world; both icons in their own right, they possessed exceptionally strong and captivating voices. This exhibition celebrates the siblings’ enduring influence on collective generational memory across our region. Derived from the Arabic word “nawarta” which means “to illuminate” or “to enlighten”, ‘Nawartuna’ sheds light on Farid and Asmahan Al Atrash’s significant involvement in the world of cinema.
Antonia Carver, Director, Art Jameel, said: “The launch of Hayy Cinema in 2022 marked a pivotal moment for culture in Saudi Arabia. This is “cinema for all”: Saudi’s first permanent, bespoke independent cinema sets out to nurture the local film scene through immersive experiences both on the silver screen and through research-based displays, talks and workshops that shed light on the storied histories of film in the region and the trajectory of its future. Hayy Cinema enables Jeddawi enthusiasts to connect with the world through international films via festivals, pop-ups and local and global collaborations, including with, for example, the Ministry of Culture, the Islamic Arts Biennale and Effat University School of Cinematic Arts.”
Zohra Ait El Jamar, Senior Manager, Hayy Cinema, remarked: “Hayy Cinema is defined by its broad and accessible approach, bringing film from all over the world to Jeddah, and offering a home for Saudi film, in a way that nurtures the audience in an atmosphere of curiosity and inclusivity. ‘Nawartuna’ is a long-term, ongoing collaboration between Art Jameel and the Red Sea International Film Festival, and part of a series focussing on illuminating the history of Arab cinema through special archival exhibitions, screenings and educational programmes. We offer our sincere thanks to the Al Atrash family for their support.”
Antoine Khalife, Director of Arab Programs and film classics, said: “Reviving the cinematic gem Victory of Youth from the depths of time and restoring its former splendor has brought cinephiles around the Arab world an indescribable joy. The Saudi public is now privileged to witness, for the first time ever, the meticulously restored version of this legendary film. Our joy is further amplified by the accompanying exhibition dedicated to the extraordinary duo, Asmahan and Farid Al Atrash, who have left an indelible mark on both music and cinema.”
The third edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival takes place in Jeddah from November 30 to December 9, 2023. This Hayy Cinema programme marks the third programming collaboration between Art Jameel and Red Sea International Film Festival; in December 2021, Hayy Jameel hosted ‘Red Sea: Immersive’, a selection of significant and era-defining virtual reality projects curated by Liz Rosenthal and in December 2022, Hayy Cinema hosted a Youssef Chahine retrospective and ‘As Seen’, a Gamal Fahmy archival exhibition.
Considered Saudi Arabia’s first permanent independent cinema and audio-visual centre, Hayy Cinema expands the definition of cinema as a meeting point to watch, learn, exchange, discover and research; the complex includes a 168-seat theatre, a 30-seat community screening room, a multimedia library and an educational exhibition space. Imagined as a year-round home for the Saudi film community and local cine-enthusiasts, the permanent, two-floor space at Hayy Jameel is designed by Jeddah-based architectural practice Bricklab, whose design won an international architectural competition run by Art Jameel in 2019, and is based on the extensive research into the history of cinema in the Gulf, and interviews with Saudi and regional actors, directors and producers.
Hayy Cinema’s December programme is typically eclectic, with “something for everyone”. The newly-restored classic Victory of Youth, presented in collaboration with the Red Sea International Film Festival, screens on December 3, 13 and 29. An edition of Aflamna, an ongoing, regular series showcasing the best in upcoming Saudi filmmaking talent, takes place December 21, featuring new films and discussions with directors, producers and actors (in collaboration with Cinewaves).
Japanese anime fans are in for a treat as, from December 14, Hayy Cinema presents the Saudi debut of the highly-anticipated new Studio Ghibli film The Boy and the Heron, accompanied by much-loved classics Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.
To secure seats in advance, cinema tickets can be conveniently booked through the Hayy Cinema app.