Source: Getty Images for RSIFF

Amaal Youssif (second left), writer-director of ‘By Hasnaa’s Side’

Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) crowned a hometown heroine at its Souk industry awards, with local filmmaker Amaal Youssif taking three prizes for her feature debut By Hasnaa’s Side.

The Arabic-language Saudi drama won one of four production awards for Red Sea Lodge projects, worth $50,000 each; the award for a Saudi project in development, production or post-production, worth $75,000; and was the Saudi winner of the Arab Cinema Center prize, giving it a place at International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR)’s Producers Lab.

Scroll down for the full list of winners

Written and directed by Youssif and produced by Ghaidaa Abuazzah for Saudi Arabia’s Wildflower Films, the project is currently in development, and has backing in place already from Qatar’s Doha Film Institute, with an estimated total budget of $1.4m.

By Hasnaa’s Side follows an 11-year-old girl who escapes for her life on her wedding night, jumping into the truck of a farmer with whom she forms a bond.

Born in Jeddah, Egyptian filmmaker Youssif was raised in Saudi Arabia; she has previously made short film Voice Note in 2017.

The $100,000 Red Sea Souk Production Award went to Rani Massalha’s Egypt-Tunisia-France co-production The Return Of The Prodigal Son, about pig farmer who is put to the test when an international swine flu outbreak causes psychosis in Egypt.

Ghadeer Binabbas’ In The Beginning, It Is The End took the $75,000 award for a Saudi project in development; with Madness And Honey Days taking the $50,000 equivalent Arab award, for filmmaker Ahmed Yassin Al-Daradji, whose Hanging Gardens won best feature at last year’s Red Sea and is Iraq’s Oscar entry for 2024.

The awards were presented at the Souk Forum room in the Ritz-Carlton festival hub. The Souk handed out over $880,000 in total of cash and in-kind awards – a significantly bigger pot than that available to most festivals, and an indication of Red Sea’s intentions in backing feature filmmaking.

“The Souk is the beating heart of this festival in that it is the genesis of so many projects, and is the culmination of everything the foundation does throughout the year and has been growing year on year since our inception in 2021,” said Shivani Pandya Malhotra, RSIFF managing director. Malhotra cited over 570 meetings for market projects, with participants from 30 countries. “We have a robust showing of projects which we’re very proud to support and look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength,” said the executive.

RSIFF closes on Saturday, December 9 with Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy And The Heron; the closing ceremony will take place two days earlier, with a screening of Michael Mann’s Ferrari.

RSIFF 2023 Souk awards

Arab Cinema Center IFFR participation awards

Saudi winner – Ghaidaa Abuazzah, for By Hasnaa’s Side (Saudi)
Arab winner – Fatma Racha Shehadeh, for The Girl And Missing Bed (Jor-Leb)

MAD Solutions award – Nostalgia: A Life In First Chapters (Syr-Ger-It)

Oticons award – Men In The Sun (Pal-UK-Gr)

Shift Studios awards

Promotion packages - Rising Up At Night (Con-Bel-Ger-B Faso); My Semba (Ang)
Full DCP package – Men In The Sun (Pal-UK-Gr)

Titrafilm work-in-progress award – Animale (Alg-Fr-Bel)

Arab Radio & Television Network awards

Saudi project - The Night Whisperer (Saudi)
Arab project – Love Conquers All (Fr-Leb)

CineWaves distribution award – Mecca, Berlin (Saudi-UAE-Ger)

Ithra award – The Night Whisperer (Saudi)

MBC Academy/Shahid awards

Development – In The Beginning, It Is The End (Saudi)
Development, production or post-production – By Hasnaa’s Side (Saudi)
Development or post-production – Madness And Honey Days (Iraq-Can)

Serieslab awards – Eye Of The Kite; Our Son Is Prettier

WIP awards

Red Sea Souk post-production jury special mention – My Semba (Ang)
Red Sea Souk post-production award – Yunan (Ger-Can-It-Pal-Jor)

Lodge awards – By Hasnaa’s Side (Saudi); Fantastic Tale (Nig); Black Snake (Zim); My Father Killed Bourghiba (Tun-Qat)

PM awards

Red Sea Souk jury special mention - Love Conquers All (Fr-Leb)
Red Sea Souk development award – When I Close My Eyes, I See Your Eyes (Egy)
Red Sea Souk production award – The Return Of The Prodigal Son (Egy-Tun-Fr)