Ranveer Singh, Diane Kruger and Abdullah Al-Sadhan to be honoured at Red Sea Film Festival

Bollywood star Ranveer Singh, Hollywood actress Diane Kruger and veteran Saudi actor Abdullah Al-Sadhan are to be honoured this year at the Red Sea International Film Festival.

The 10-day event, which celebrates the best of Saudi, Arab and international cinema, begins in Jeddah on Thursday.

Recipients of The Red Sea: Honoree Award are “prominent cinematic figures and icons who contributed to shaping the history of cinema as we know it today”, organisers said.

“This year, we are honouring Ranveer Singh, an icon of Hindi cinema; Diane Kruger, who has delivered us a series of unforgettable characters from Helen of Troy to Tarantino’s Bridget von Hammersmark and affected us with her powerhouse performance of the avenging Angel Katja in Fatih Akin’s In the Fade; as well as the hugely beloved Abdullah Al-Sadhan, who has been a mainstay of Saudi entertainment through Tash ma Tash for two decades and will also appear in this year’s competition title Norah,” said Mohammed Al-Turki, chief executive of the Red Sea International Film Festival.

Singh, one of the most popular actors in India, is no stranger to the festival. Along with his wife, actress Deepika Padukone, Singh attended the event in 2021 for the world premiere of their film 83.

ranveer singh, diane kruger and abdullah al-sadhan to be honoured at red sea film festival

Red Sea International Film Festival chief executive Mohammed Al-Turki with Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in 2021. Photo: Red Sea International Film Festival

Organisers have also announced the full jury for this year’s event. It will be led by director Baz Luhrmann, known for films including Elvis and Moulin Rouge. He will be joined in the Red Sea: Features jury by Swedish-American actor Joel Kinnaman (Silent Night, For All Mankind and Suicide Squad), Bafta Award-nominated actress Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire and Knight of Cups), Egyptian actress Amina Khalil (Grand Hotel and Eugenie Nights) and Spanish actress Paz Vega (Sex and Lucia and The OA).

The Red Sea: Shorts competition will be judged by Hana Alomair, a Saudi writer, filmmaker and film critic behind Netflix series Whispers; French-Moroccan actor Assaad Bouab (Call My Agent and Whatever Lola Wants); and award-winning Turkish-German film director, screenwriter and producer Fatih Akin.

The opening film this year is Hwjn, based on a popular Saudi fantasy romance novel. Hwjn is set in Jeddah and tells the story of a kind-hearted jinn who lives unseen among humans and develops an unexpected connection with Sawsan, a young medical student.

ranveer singh, diane kruger and abdullah al-sadhan to be honoured at red sea film festival

A still from the Saudi film Hwjn. Photo: Image Nation Abu Dhabi

The book was written by Ibraheem Abbas and released in 2013 and became a bestseller in the kingdom. Director Yasir Alyasiri called it “an epic tale of romance, adventure and culture that has resonated with millions in Saudi Arabia and beyond”.

“Bringing this beloved novel to life as a movie has been an extraordinary journey and a landmark achievement for regional cinema,” he said earlier. “It’s profoundly meaningful for us to open this year’s Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah – the city where Hwjn’s story was born, and which plays a pivotal role in the narrative.”

The event will close with Hollywood film Ferrari, starring Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari, the motor racer and founder of the famed Italian car company. Directed by Michael Mann, the A-list cast includes Penelope Cruz, Shailene Woodley and Patrick Dempsey.

Ferrari was partly funded by Red Sea International Film Financing.

“Ferrari is Michael Mann in overdrive. It’s a story about passion, love, and business where the cars are as beautiful as the film – which we loved from the moment we first saw it,” said Kaleem Aftab, director of international programming for the festival. “This visually rich film serves as an exhilarating close to both this year’s festival and the international strand.”

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