The event’s third iteration began in Jeddah with the international premiere of the Saudi jinn fantasy romance “HWJN.”
A-list heavyweights Will Smith and Johnny Depp graced the opening night of the third Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia.
As soon as Smith stepped foot into the enormous, opulent Ritz Carlton hotel in Jeddah on Thursday night, he was swarmed by people looking to take selfies, and he dutifully posed for as many as he could (Depp decided to come later to less hoopla).
The festival jury chairman, Baz Luhrmann, made waves on the red carpet as well. Other prominent attendees included various Saudi Arabian celebrities, Diane Kruger, Sofia Vergara, Bollywood star Ranveer Singh, Ed Westwick, and Sharon Stone, who was returning to the festival after attending in 2022.
HWJN, a jinn fantasy romance directed by Iraqi filmmaker Yasir Al Yasiri and set in contemporary Jeddah, was the first Saudi Arabian film produced locally to have the distinction of opening the festival.
The best-selling young adult fantasy book by Ibraheem Abbas served as the inspiration for HWJN. The film, which combines contemporary concerns with Arabian legend, centers on Baraa Alem’s portrayal of a good-hearted jinn who sets out on a heroic quest to recover his inheritance. He meets Sawsan, a young medical student (Nour Alkhadra), along the road, and they fall in love. A storyline summary states that he must also fight against old evils “to maintain the harmonious balance between his world and ours.”
At the festival’s opening gala, Singh—who had earlier in the day attended a sold-out “In Conversation” event—Kruger, as well as Saudi actor and writer Abdullah Al-Sadhan, received honors. “Prominent cinematic figures and icons who contributed to shaping the history of cinema as we know it today and immortalized it in the hearts of the masses” are the recipients of the Red Sea Honoree Award.
Later in the festival, Smith and Luhrmann are scheduled to participate in “In Conversation” sessions.
The third Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia opened with the international premiere of the Saudi jinn fantasy romance “HWJN”. A-list stars Will Smith and Johnny Depp attended the event, along with other Saudi Arabian celebrities like Diane Kruger, Sofia Vergara, Ranveer Singh, Ed Westwick, and Sharon Stone. HWJN, directed by Iraqi filmmaker Yasir Al Yasiri, is the first Saudi Arabian film to have the festival’s opening. The film, inspired by Ibraheem Abbas’ best-selling young adult fantasy book, follows a jinn on a heroic quest to recover his inheritance.