Source: Ben Dalton

Taqwa Ali, Razan Alsoghayer, Feras Almusharrie from ‘Scapegoat’

Saudi dark comedy Scapegoat won two prizes including the Lodge $100,000 Saudi project award, at the Red Sea Souk prize ceremony this evening (December 6) at Red Sea International Film Festival.

Currently in development, the Saudi-Netherlands co-production is written by Bahraini filmmaker Taqwa Ali. Razan Alsoghayer produces for her Fusfus Productions, and the film will be directed by Feras Almusharrie, both from Saudi Arabia.

Scroll down for the full list of Souk winners

It follows a woman who returns to her superstitious village 15 years after being expelled as a child for supposedly being cursed.

The Arabic- and English-language film has an estimated $1.5m budget, and is aiming for a late 2024-early 2025 shoot. It also picked up the $50,000 award from Saudi distributor Cinewaves.

“It feels magical,” Alsoghayer told Screen after receiving the awards. “It’s more about the passion of film, rather than how much money we’re going to make. Now that they trust us, we need to fulfil their trust.

“We started this film idea with a rant about culture; now we created a village with all these ranting things that we said,” she continued. “We’re making fun of all the tragedy we’ve been through in this village.”

”It’s crazy because five years ago we didn’t have cinema; now we’re putting our stories into the cinema,” continued Alsoghayer. ”Now it’s time for us to splash and let all the word know about what we as Saudis go through and our struggle and that we’re actually relatable.”

The parallel $100,000 Red Sea Lodge award for an Arab project went to Egyptian drama Aisha Can’t Fly Away Anymore, about a caregiver for elderly people in Cairo who discovers an underground African society filled with tensions. The $663,734 budget title is written by Morad Mostafa and Sawsan Yusuf, with Mostafa as director and Yusuf as producer.

Gaby Zarazir and Michel Zarazir’s Lebanese-French comedy A Trip To Jerusalem received two prizes – the $35,000 Red Sea Lodge jury special mention, and the Arab Cinema Center award of participation in the 2023 Rotterdam Lab at International Film Festival Rotterdam in January.

The $100,000 production award went to Ghanian-French coming-of-age story Vagabonds, which uses the Twi language spoken by several million people in Ghana. It is written and directed by Amartei Armar, and produced by Sebastien Hussenot and Yemoh Ike. “I don’t think there are words in English, Arabic or French to express how appreciative we are,” said Ike.

Bringing to a close four days of industry activity at Jeddah’s Ritz Carlton hotel, the awards were well-attended. Every seat was taken in the conference room with the same number of people standing, with an audience of several hundred people in total. All awards were greeted with cheers and applause not always seen at market ceremonies.

RSIFF continues until Saturday, December 10, with the festival’s awards ceremony taking place on Thursday, December 8.

RSIFF 2022 Souk awards 

Lodge award for a Saudi project – Scapegoat (Saudi-Neth) dir. Feras Almusharrie
Lodge award for an Arab project – Aisha Can’t Fly Away Any More (Egy) dir. Morad Mostafa
Jury special mention – A Trip To Jerusalem (Leb-Fr) dirs. Gaby Zarazir, Michel Zarazir
Development award – Wolfmother (Fr-Mor) dir. Ismael El Iraki
Production award – Vagabonds (Gha-Fr) dir. Amartei Armar
Work-in-progress award – The Mother Of All Lies (Mor-Qat-Saudi-Egy) dir. Asmae El Moudir

Arab Cinema Center Rotterdam 2023 Lab participation – A Trip To Jerusalem (Leb-Fr) dirs. Gaby Zarazir, Michel Zarazir

The Cell Studios promotion package – Concrete Land (Jor) dir. Asmahan Bkerat
DCP package – Hounds (Fr-Mor-Bel) dir. Kamal Lazraq

Leyth sound mixing award – Banel E Adama (Fr-Sen-Mali) dir. Ramata-Toulaye Sy
Editing award – Concrete Land (Jor) dir. Asmahan Bkerat

Oticons music licence award – The Mother Of All Lies (Mor-Qat-Saudi-Egy) dir. Asmae El Moudir
Music consulting award – Behind The Palm Trees (Fr-Mor-Bel) dir. Meryem Benm’Barek

Titrafilm subtitling award - Banel E Adama (Fr-Sen-Mali) dir. Ramata-Toulaye Sy

ART Saudi project award – You Were The Poet And I Thought I Existed (Saudi) dir. Sara Mesfer

Cinewaves award - Scapegoat (Saudi-Neth) dir. Feras Almusharrie

Mad Solutions award - Behind The Palm Trees (Fr-Mor-Bel) dir. Meryem Benm’Barek

MBC Arab project award – Men In The Sun (Gre-Pal-UK-Neth-Den) dir. Mahdi Fleifel
Saudi project award – Dancing On Fire (Saudi) dir. Hana Alomair
Saudi project award – A Last Argument Against Youth (Saudi) dir. Mohammed Algbreen