Red Sea film festival travels back in time with outdoor cinema

JEDDAH: An outdoor cinema overlooking the Jeddah waterfront has been set up to screen restored classic movies as part of the Red Sea International Film Festival.
The setting is reminiscent of the 70’s when “Cinema Alhosh,” meaning backyard cinemas, were common in Saudi
Cinephiles can grab popcorn from the Vox kiosk, cozy up in a bean bag and enjoy movies such as “Love in Karnak” (1965) and “Watch out for Zouzou” (1972).
Antoine Khalife, the head of the Arab program and film classics at RSIFF, said that movies for the outdoor cinema were chosen with Jeddah’s audience in mind.
“‘Watch out for Zouzou’ came out 50 years ago, it was produced in 1972 and we are in 2022, so for us, it was amazing to do the restoration. A lot of people, maybe your mom and aunts, watched it on TV, and they love Soad Hosny or the songs.
“We decided on something light, nice … and at the same time it is a masterpiece and a film that is very modern,” said Khalife.
Khalife said that he wanted to remind people that the festival was for the public, for a large audience, and for the people of Saudi Arabia. “They can meet the directors, the stars, the actors, and it is not just a place for professionals,” he added.
He said that many amazing movies await the people and that he was looking forward to the public response.
Amna Khalid, a 25-year-old Egyptian, who watched the first screening of “Watch out for Zouzou” said: “When my mom moved to Jeddah after she got married, she said she would watch this movie all the time with my dad.
“So when I saw there was a screening, I rushed to watch it. I don’t think the story even matters to me, the movie makes me feel warm inside because of how many childhood memories I have of it.”