The film scene in Saudi Arabia has been growing quite rapidly in the past few years. From its modest beginnings to its present ambitious plans to join the rest of the world in having its own film industry and market, cinemas opening nationwide, and funding of projects by the government to begin as soon as 2020, one can only imagine the outcome for now. But one thing is for sure, it is up to the young filmmakers in Saudi to show the world their stories, and culture.
The city of Khobar, located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, is the home of one such filmmaker, Abdulaziz Aldughaither.
From a very young age, Aldughaither fell in love with storytelling and began making short films with family and friends. From that point on, telling stories through film became his sole ambition.
Aldughaither did not have the opportunity to study filmmaking, so he took it upon himself to study the work of the masters in cinema and literature, to ultimately start creating his own work.
He has made 7 short films starring his longtime collaborator and friend Ahmed Gaddourah in most of them. Gaddourah began his acting career on stage, featuring in numerous productions in the city of Dhahran, located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia as well. He made the move to film when he met Aldughaither in 2007, and what followed were a series of collaborations that led to their latest work, RAMBLER.
In the summer of 2017 in Madrid, Spain, Aldughaither happened to be on vacation when he finished the first draft of his first feature length project, RAMBLER. It was not until October 2018 when the shooting script was ready, pre-production began.
For this film Aldughaither had to join forces with frequent collaborates and friends, Abdullah Alshaikhmubarak and Sara Altamimi to bring this project to life. Alshaikhmubarak with his analytical critiquing helped in fine-tuning the script. Altamimi on the other hand brought with her the experience of working on a number of short films produced in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. They both joined the project as producers.
The shooting script was a salvage of a salvage of a salvage. What was supposed to be a 70-minute feature ended up being an 8 minutes short. The reason behind the major change was due to the difficulty of finding local actors who were available to play the parts in the feature version, in the period of the scheduled filming. But that did not stop them. The team was determined to make this film with complete disregard to the obstacles they faced. They took what the film is essentially about and opted to make it with one character. And with an old collaborator and friend (Gaddourah) being on board, production was underway.
Aldughaither made the decision to shoot with film after seeing in the past few years films like “The Hateful Eight” and “Dunkirk” being shot and projected completely with film, and the powerful emotional impact it had, made him and the team absolutely adamant that film was the only medium they were going to shoot with, and 16mm was the film of choice.
The journey to obtain a functioning film camera, finding the closest film lab to process the footage, and learning how to shoot on film was no small feat. Aldughaither having shot all his earlier work on digital, the switch to film proved to be the most challenging endeavor in this production. Issues like the heaviness of the Arriflex camera he used, operating it, the changing of film reels, with the harsh desert environment added to the mix, pushed them to their limits, and almost broke them.
After submitting to film festivals around the world, in May 2019, the team received the letter of acceptance in the Madrid International Film Festival. To Aldughaither it had to be Madrid. It’s where he finalized the very first draft of the script, and having it screened there as a world premiere completes the circle.
The film has already won the Award of Recognition at IndieFEST 2019 for:
- Short Film
- Experimental Short
- Actor in a Leading Role
The Madrid International Film Festival has nominated his short film for the following awards:
- Best Director of a Short Foreign Language Film / Madrid International Film Festival 2019
- Best Sound Design / Madrid International Film Festival 2019
The film won the Best Sound Design Award last Saturday (August 17, 2019), adding it to the list of awards won thus far.
The Madrid International Film Festival is one of the most rewarding and helpful festivals in Europe for international emerging artists and experienced creators to be a part of.
There is ample opportunity to attend networking events, industry professional talk panels, workshops, guest speaker events, film premieres, financing talks, director Q&A’s, film screenings and to socialize with like-minded creatives from all walks of life.
All of this is neatly wrapped in a week-long showcasing of films where a strong community supports any and every film, from first-time artists to seasoned creators.
Aldughaither and the team were in Madrid during the festival week of the Madrid International Film Festival and their short film RAMBLER was screened on the 12th of August to an audience of friends and festival attendees and participants.
Starring Ahmed Gaddourah as Rambler
Music by Masar and Fahad Almohawis
Legal Services Abdullah Aldughaither
Produced by Sara Altamimi, Abdullah Alshaikhmubarak and Abdulaziz Aldughaither
Written and Directed by Abdulaziz Aldughaither
Photographed in ARRI Camera and Lens
Shot on Kodak 16mm Color Film