Complex Made Simple

New Saudi TV SBC butts heads with MBC in competition for young viewers

Saudi has lifted a decades-long ban on cinemas recently, and filmmakers in Saudi have been long waiting to thrive, flourish and show the world what they are made of.

Separate key developments are paving the way towards a booming filmmaking industry.

Saudi’s MBC and Abu Dhabi’s Image Nation are teaming up to bring us four Saudi films, and that was revealed on May 12 during a Saudi delegation’s first ever visit to Cannes Festival.

The four movies are now under development, with production set to begin in 2019.

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Saudi’s new film

Variety, a website for movie analyses and insights, said: “The movies are expected to showcase several genres including comedy, action, thriller, and drama among others.”

According to Variety, one of the aforementioned movies is a comedy written by Saudi Comedian and Screenwriter Fahad Al Butairi and entitled “Love Above the Law”.

The film tells the story of a couple with different backgrounds, with the plot revolving around a middle-class Saudi man who marries a girl from the Badiya, the country’s rural community, and who will end up discovering that they actually have a lot in common, Variety reported.

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MBC and Image Nation: Not a new partnership

The deal between MBC and Image Nation is not a first of its kind.

A previous partnership between these two entities was announced last year, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a multi-platform American digital and print magazine.

Following this partnership, they are currently in advanced development of a feature film adaptation of the best-seller sci-fi novel “HWJN.”

The story talks about a devout God-fearing Jinn, who forges a special bond with a talented Saudi female medical student.

Emirati Filmmaker Majid Al-Ansari, whose thriller film “Zinzana” is considered one of the most important Arab-language movies acquired by Netflix, will direct the movie.

“HWJN” will start shooting in autumn this year, The Hollywood reported.

In addition to that thriller, MBC and Image Nation are preparing a spin-off of the famous TV series “The Delusionists.”

This spin-off is set to go into production back-to-back with the film, and its story is expected to have a unique take on modern Saudi and Arab society, The Hollywood mentioned.

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SBC: Saudi’s road to modernization

In addition to filmmaking and co-production deals with foreign companies, Saudi is launching a modern TV channel geared towards a younger audience.

SBC is set to be launched in Saudi during the month of Ramadan, according to Expat Woman, a website for international women around the globe.

This new TV Channel is nothing like we’ve seen before in Saudi, according to Expat Woman.

“The TV will be modernized and broadcast films, talk shows, and cooking programs, among other content,” it said.

“This is a general channel that’s seeking to attract the new generation of Saudis,” Expat Woman reported Dawood Shirian, the station’s director, as saying.

“Most of the content, about 75%, is geared toward the youth between 15 and 35 years old.”

In addition, Expat Woman reported that female presenters would be wearing colored abayas with make-up in place of the traditional black abayas that are usually worn by female TV presenters in Saudi.

They will also be working and appearing alongside male counterparts, something that didn’t happen in the past.

Saudi is not resting until it has the full gamut of movie-making techniques.

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The 23-year-old Saudi Ola Sfeeran, an animator at Verve Studios, a boutique-acting studio, told a local news media: “There is a large audience for animated films in the Kingdom.”

According to Sfeeran, animation and filmmaking always existed in the Kingdom, but are now receiving a huger audience, as local companies are taking care of this sector by providing scholarships to reinforce this sector.

Another animator, Samaher Bantan, from Effat University’s Visual and Digital Production (VDP) department, told the local news agency that she joined the university the moment she knew about the animation stream at the VDP department.

Bantan added that Saudis were already using animation in advertisement and small videos and is expecting animation to enter the cinematic world under all the reforms that Saudi is undergoing.