The Saudi government cancelled the Jeddah Film Festival hours before it was due to begin. It did not issue an explanation for the cancellation.
July 20, 2009 7:51 by Dana El Baltaji
The Jeddah Film Festival, which was scheduled to open on Saturday at the King Abdul Aziz Cultural Center was canceled at the eleventh hour, literally.
Mamdouh Salem, director of the Jeddah Film Festival, confirmed the cancellation, saying that he received an official notice from the Jeddah governorate at 11pm on Friday ordering the festival canceled and leaving many attendees who had already arrived at a loss of words.
Salem said the cancellation came at the last moment just when everything was ready. The adjudicating panel, which consists of Omani director Khaled Al Zajali, UAE writer Khaled Al Bodour, Saudi producer Majdi Wadou and writer Halema Muzafar, had already started their work early Friday.
The official explanation from the Jeddah municipality was that the festival “lacked preparations,” according to municipality spokesman Ahmad Al Ghamdi. He did not elaborate. Calls made to Rotana Studios, the official sponsor of the event, went unanswered.
More than 50 directors from Gulf countries and a number of other personalities invited by Rotana Studios had arrived for the inauguration of the festival.
“I’m sorry that they came all this way only for the event to be canceled,” said Salem, adding that he was trying to get a clear explanation for the cancellation from the concerned authorities.
Seventy-one films from GCC countries, including a maiden entry from Yemen and 15 short European films, were to be screened publicly, according to Salem. The festival was going to give a number of awards.
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