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RSIFF to host a masterclass with legendary Egyptian director Beshara in Jeddah
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 10 - 12 - 2020

The Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) will welcome legendary Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara to Jeddah for a masterclass, which will take place on Monday, Dec. 14, at Muvi, Mall of Arabia, Jeddah.
Beshara will share his professional experiences reshaping the Arab film industry over four decades in a masterclass moderated by Antoine Khalife, head of the Festival's Arab Film Program. The conversation will draw on Beshara's innovative and inimitable filmmaking to consider: "Renewing cinema through plots, story and performances."
Masterclass attendees will also have the bonus of attending a book signing for a new biography on Beshara, The Rebel, written by film critic Mohammed Sayed Abdulraheem, that places Beshara at the center of Arab cinema and features never-before-seen archival images.
The masterclass and book launch will kick-start a three-day retrospective of Beshara's acclaimed films that will take place across Saudi Arabia in Dhahran, Jeddah and Riyadh from Dec. 14-16.
The retrospective will feature never-before-seen 4K versions of five of his most adored films that have been lovingly restored by the Red Sea Foundation. The celebration also marks the first time that these classic works of Arab cinema will screen in cinemas in the Kingdom.
Looking ahead to the masterclass, book launch and retrospective screenings, Beshara commented, "It's interesting to me, and perhaps to you, to recall and reflect on 57 years of my life in cinema and beyond."
Born in 1947 in Tanta, Egypt, Beshara grew up in Cairo and began making short films and documentaries in the 1970s, garnering him the title "Star of Documentary Cinema. In the 1980s, Beshara became a leading figure of the Egytpian "Neo-Realist" movement.
He worked on films alongside many well-known writers such as Abdel Rahman El-Abnudi for The Collar and the Bracelet (1986) and Fayiz Ghaly for Sweet Day, Bitter Day (1988), and collaborated with film stars such as Ahmed Zaki, Sherihan and Faten Hamama.
In the 1990s he would gain further acclaim for instigating folk fantasy films into Arab cinema and was one of the first Arab directors to venture into digital filmmaking.
Retrospective — Five classics by Beshara in three cities
Muvi Theatres in Dhahran, Jeddah, and Riyadh will screen five classic Beshara films restored by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation in 4K. The screenings are the first cinematic presentations of Beshara's work in Saudi Arabia.
The retrospective will commence with one of the most iconic films in Egyptian cinema history, The Collar and the Bracelet (1986), a searing dramatic thriller, acclaimed for its unflinching social commentary and poetic style. Screening in Jeddah on Monday, Dec. 14.
Bitter Day, Sweet Day (1988) is a portrait of Egyptian society reshaped by the forces of globalization, through the story of widow Aisha, her five children, and a manipulative and controlling son-in-law. A moving look at poverty and drastic social change on an individual's values and ambitions. Screening in Riyadh and Dhahran on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Ice Cream in Gleam (1992) is a film of hope against the odds, staring the legendary Amr Diab as Saif. Working in a video rental store, Saif dreams of another life, making his name in music. But fate seems to have other plans — he's fired and lands in jail. There, he meets and forms a trio with a songwriter and infamous musician, discovering his aspirations still reach the hardest of places. Screening in Dhahran, Jeddah, and Riyadh on Tuesday Dec. 15.
Set in 1973, Abracadabra America (1993) follows a hapless group as they flee Egypt after the October War, attempting to emigrate to America. Arriving at their first stop on the Hungarian border, they discover they've been conned. To survive, they must learn to overcome their differences. Screening in Dhahran and Riyadh on Monday Dec. 14; Jeddah on Tuesday Dec. 15.
A remarkable film shot entirely on the busy streets of downtown Cairo, Traffic Light (1995) is a glimpse of mid-90s Egyptian society, reeling from the changes of globalization. At a stop sign, on hold for a passing VIP, a group finds themselves at emotional and social 'crossroads' — a love story blossoms, a baby is due, and a man is on fire. Screening in Dhahran, Jeddah, and Riyadh on Wednesday Dec. 16. — SG


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