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Reuters: First Saudi film festival opens despite clerics

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire July 13, 2006 at 9:42AM

The first Saudi Arabian film festival opened this week, but the silver screen remains so controversial in the conservative kingdom that the word "cinema" does not even appear in the title. The Jeddah Visual Show Festival kicked off on Wednesday night with two hours of home-grown short films. The public can see the films three times a week for a month. Public movie screenings are taboo in Saudi Arabia, where puritanical scholars believe any depiction of the human form is forbidden in Islam and see the U.S.-dominated film industry as an immoral force driven by sex and violence. "The Ministry of Information and Culture said let's not call it cinema, that could imply God knows what -- let's say 'visual shows,'" director Mishael al-Enazi told a news conference. Andrew Hammond reports.
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The first Saudi Arabian film festival opened this week, but the silver screen remains so controversial in the conservative kingdom that the word "cinema" does not even appear in the title. The Jeddah Visual Show Festival kicked off on Wednesday night with two hours of home-grown short films. The public can see the films three times a week for a month. Public movie screenings are taboo in Saudi Arabia, where puritanical scholars believe any depiction of the human form is forbidden in Islam and see the U.S.-dominated film industry as an immoral force driven by sex and violence. "The Ministry of Information and Culture said let's not call it cinema, that could imply God knows what -- let's say 'visual shows,'" director Mishael al-Enazi told a news conference. Andrew Hammond reports.