Saudi Arabia to show films for first time at Cannes festival

2018-04-10 09:27
 

Paris - Saudi Arabia will make its first official appearance at France's Cannes film festival, submitting a selection of short films when the prestigious competition opens next month, the Saudi culture minister said on Monday.

Speaking with her Saudi counterpart, French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said she had also discussed "the importance of translating books in both directions, from Arab into French and French into Arab."

Prince Mohammed, known widely by his initials MBS, dined with President Emmanuel Macron at Paris's historic Louvre museum on Sunday night after flying in on his first trip to France as the heir to the Saudi throne.

Macron, 40, faces a diplomatic tightrope in talks with the prince as he seeks to bolster his ties with the world's top oil exporter, while also managing relations with the kingdom's arch-rival Iran.

The prince's visit is part of a global tour that has seen him travel to the United States, Britain and Egypt as he seeks to project a more moderate vision of his country which is often associated in the West with exporting jihadist ideology.

HOLLYWOOD AND CANNES

Saudi and French aides had stressed before the trip that cultural ties, as well as new business opportunities, would be at the heart of two days of talks between government and private-sector figures from both countries.

In February, Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority (GEA) announced it would stage more than 5 000 festivals and concerts in 2018, double the number of last year, and pump $64bn in the sector in the coming decade.

The kingdom has hosted a series of concerts in recent months by artists such as Lebanon's Hiba Tawaji, legendary Greek composer Yanni or Egyptian pop sensation Tamer Hosny, albeit it with warnings to music-lovers that dancing is prohibited. 

The announcement about the Cannes film festival came after Prince Mohammed dined at media mogul Rupert Murdoch's house last week in the US along with studio bosses from Hollywood and famed American actors including Morgan Freeman.

"With a rich tradition of storytelling, Saudi Arabia is embarking on the development of a sustainable and dynamic (film) industry," Culture Minister Awwad Alawwad said in a statement sent to AFP on Monday.

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