Mahmoud Sabbagh, the director of Saudi Arabai’s Red Sea Film Festival, is resigning from his role after being unable to take the reins at the event’s inaugural edition after it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
No reason was given for Sabbagh’s decision to step down. The festival posted a statement on its social media channels thanking the exec for his work and noting he will now return to working in the Saudi film industry as a filmmaker. His previous credits include Barakah Meets Barakah, which debuted at the 2016 Berlinale, and 2018 drama Amra And The Second Marriage.
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It’s been a rocky start for the event, which many hoped would become a leading Middle East festival after its launch followed the closure of the Dubai International Film Festival, a key event in the region.
The debut edition was due to be held March 12-21 and would have welcomed Oliver Stone as its jury head, before the worsening coronavirus outbreak caused it to postpone. No new dates have been set for a 2020 fest and it is now expected that it will have its inaugural edition in 2021.
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