European Film Bonanza For Riyadh Connoisseurs

A major Europ-ean Film Festival kicks off in Riyadh today with the screening of a 100-minute popular film “Empties” (Vrante Lahve, directed by Jan Sverak) at the German Embassy.

The festival, which is likely to attract many Saudi guests and a large number of diplomats, will be inaugurated by Ambassador Luigi Narbone, head of the Riyadh-based Delegation of European Commission. “This 2009 edition of the festival, which will bring together more viewers, is being organized by 11 European embassies together with the Delegation of the European Commission,” said Dina El-Sourani, a spokeswoman of the European delegation office, yesterday.

El-Sourani said that 12 films from different European countries would be shown at different embassies. The embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Poland, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Turkey and the Czech Republic have teamed up to support the event. The festival is to run from April 26 to May 18.

“Anyway the Wind Blows” will be shown on April 28 at the Belgian Embassy. The Turkish Embassy will be the host on April 29 with the screening of the famous film “Boats out of Watermelon Rinds.” On May 2, another major film “Volver” will be screened at the French Embassy; “Le Couperet” will be shown on May 4 at the same embassy. The German Embassy will be the host on May 6 and screen “Lenin!,” while “Loneliness on the Net” will be screened on May 10 at the Canadian Embassy. Popular films like “Happy-Go-Lucky,” “Zwartbock,” “The Ugly Duckling and Me,” “Gomorra” and “Studs” will also be screened during the festival. The films at the festival will feature a rich history of first-class filmmaking that has all the components to attract audiences. The festival will also promote the culture of filmmaking and screening in Saudi Arabia, which has recently organized several film screening sessions both in Jeddah and Riyadh. The festival is also a major step toward cultural exchange that has been on the agenda of several European and Saudi governments. Of late, the European Commission has supported and launched several cultural initiatives. A number of Gulf students were recently selected for the Erasmus Mundus scholarship program for Master’s courses.

Selected students were awarded a scholarship of 21,000 euros per academic year for attending one of the 103 master’s courses selected under action one of the program. Students can study in any of the countries in which the universities belonging to an Erasmus Mundus consortium are located. On the cultural front, the European delegation in Riyadh has also launched the Chaillot Prize in the Gulf.

Acknowledging the need for the promotion of human rights and the need to highlight positive developments in the GCC region, the Delegation of European Commission launched this prize, which will be given to activities, campaigns and actions that favor progress in the field of promoting human rights and creating its awareness in the Gulf region.

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