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Saudi Arabia’s film festival cancelled

Officials in the conservative Muslim nation have long banned concerts and movies, but the film industry in the region was given a boost when the government gave the green light for the Jeddah festival.

Moviemakers had hoped the event, which was due to show 100 feature and short films over a week, would pave the way for the opening of cinemas in the country.

But the festival was scrapped late on Friday night (17Jul09) just hours before it was due to start – and the announcement came as a shock to the writers and directors hoping to showcase their work at the event.

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Film-maker Mahmoud Sabbagh says, “We were hoping that things like the Jeddah film festival, that these very humble efforts would lead the change. But we got the message it is not the time.

Jeddah city spokesman Ahmad al-Ghamdi claims the festival was cancelled because the event “lacked preparations”.

Cinema made a brief comeback in Saudi Arabia in December (08) following a 30 year ban – comedy movie Menahi was allowed to be screened and became so popular it was shown up to eight times a day.

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