Film Programme

AlUla CreatesFilm2023

In 2023, our Film Programme will be dedicated to supporting the next generation of women Directors from KSA. The initiative includes a global network of mentorships, and forms part of a year-round programme that aims to connect female filmmakers with access to development funds, and leading industry professionals.

We have developed a comprehensive curriculum, in partnership with Vertigo Films and Haifaa Al-Mansour to provide three filmmakers with a bespoke mentoring programme that will transform their short-film ideas into complete festival-ready projects. Each participant will receive everything required to empower them to work confidently and effectively on a global stage.


Vertigo Films

An award-winning studio, and one of the most prolific producers in the UK. Vertigo has a long history of discovering and supporting new talent, with a number of their films kick-starting the careers of leading names including: Tom Hardy, Gareth Edwards and Vanessa Kirby.

“It's just clear that there's a huge amount of talent here [Saudi Arabia].”
James Richardson, Co-Founder - Vertigo Films

Haifaa al Mansour

Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom. She has risen to international acclaim, creating a body of work that is both award winning and critically acclaimed.

“I’m so proud to have partnered with Film AlUla as a mentor in their AlUla Creates programme, and support upcoming female directors from Saudi.”
Haifaa Al Mansour


Congratulations to the talented filmmakers who emerged victorious from the AlUla Creates 2023 Film competition, and a big thank you to everyone who participated. The sheer volume of exceptional submissions and the remarkable caliber of film treatments left our selection committee deeply impressed.

Raneem & Dana Almohandes

Short Film Synopsis

In the arid landscapes of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, a tiny mosquito named Zozo has big dreams that set her apart from her buzzing companions. While her fellow mosquitoes are content with their usual routines, Zozo yearns for something more - she dreams of becoming a singer. But there's a catch: her melodious aspirations are tied to a language that only her fellow mosquitoes seem incapable of understanding.

Frustrated by her inability to communicate with her own kind, Zozo embarks on an audacious quest. She ventures into the realm of humans, seeking ears that might hear her unique song. Yet, her attempts to serenade humans with her ethereal melodies result in irritation and swats, as people are unable to comprehend her linguistic cadence.

Zozo's ultimate aspiration, beyond mere recognition, is to meet the legendary Egyptian singer Um Kalthoum. Though long deceased, Um Kalthoum's legacy and enchanting voice continue to inspire generations. Zozo imagines that if anyone could understand her musical language, it would be the soul of a singer as timeless and resonant as Um Kalthoum.

As Zozo's journey takes her closer to fulfilling her dreams, she is met with a shocking revelation. The anticipated concert she's been preparing to attend, featuring Um Kalthoum, turns out to be a holographic recreation of the legendary singer's performances. The revelation leaves Zozo in a bittersweet state - while she is close to the essence of her musical idol, Um Kalthoum's presence is an illusion, an echo of the past.

Maram Taibah

Short Film Synopsis

When Salma, a rambunctious 8-year-old is sent to her room for wreaking havoc downstairs, she sneaks into bed with Granny, who tells her that she's dying. Unless Salma could find Granny's lost magical crown before sunset, she could be gone forever. Granny draws a map for Salma that would take her to where the crown is hidden and Salma sneaks out of the house to begin her quest.

Starting from the backyard, Salma's imagination takes her to the wildest places where she meets creatures and unlikely friends, including an old fortune-teller who claims to be Granny’s friend. She gets into trouble with the neighborhood boys, loses her way home, and nearly gets caught by her parents, which drives her to hide in a dark unfriendly place full of storms and demons. Salma learns much about herself and when she eventually finds the treasure box where the crown is stored, she’s confronted with a revelation that changes everything.

This is a story about a grandmother-granddaughter relationship, and what it means to be a wild girl in a world that asks us to be tame and about finding our own sovereignty. It's set in a world of magical realism born out of a child's imagination.

Hana & Mana Alfasi

Short Film Synopsis

A mother of two finds herself responsible to run an Antique business in the old town, the touristic side of the city, in the wake of the abrupt absence of her husband. To everyone around her, even her assistant, she is extremely rigorous and on the verge of being nasty. She informs her 9- and 12-year-old children that they will now take the bus to school. The kids don't understand why their father can't take them instead, and when the mother's son attempts to explain that he doesn't want to ride the bus as he faces bullying, the mother won't even let him finish his sentence, because he needs to toughen up and be a man.

Later that day, while organizing the mess and sorting through a ton of papers, she runs upon a large drawer in the back. As it opens, a large folder with several articles and more regarding suicide between religion and science is revealed. She gradually realizes what may have actually happened to her spouse. When she looks at a USB drive bearing her name, her husband reveals that he has been struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for years. He is unsure of his ability to survive, though, because he is afraid to even talk to his strong wife because, like his mother before him, the pressure to always appear and act strong is too great. The news breaks the wife to pieces. She notices her son's weakness, vulnerability, and exhaustion later that day when the children return from school. She sits next to him and maybe attempts to get him to talk, since she may now be willing to listen.

TheProgrammeso far...

After meticulously reviewing over one hundred applications and film proposals from Saudi women filmmakers, Film AlUla and its judging committee, comprised of Vertigo Films, Haifaa al Mansour and Roua Almadani, made their final selections for enrolment on the inaugural AlUla Creates: Film Programme.

The selected winners Hana Alfasi, Maram Taibah and sisters Raneem and Dana Almohandes stood out for their compelling and innovative narratives, experimental styles, and strong direction. Their stories, deeply rooted in the cultural context of Saudi Arabia, explored universal themes with a bold and fresh approach.


Set amidst the dynamic landscape of AlUla, the first phase of the mentorship programme commenced. Bringing these exceptionally talented filmmakers together with their Programme Mentors for the first time, to immerse themselves with inspiration from the breathtaking natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region.

“A new generation of talent is on the rise in Saudi Arabia; they have the drive, perspective and potential to take the Saudi industry to the global level. AlUla Creates, as a programme, facilitates that. By bringing together established talent with emerging Saudi filmmakers, we are enabling an exchange of experiences and knowledge. It is a two- way process of learning that will have a long-lasting impact on the trajectories of these filmmaker’s careers. By anchoring our programme in AlUla, we are setting their creative discussions in a place of inspiration and connection.”
Charlene Deleon-Jones, Executive Director - Film AlUla

“Spending the past week with the extremely talented winning filmmakers of the AlUla Creates: Film Programme has been insightful and rewarding. Since I started my career, we have witnessed a massive shift, and I have seen the Saudi film industry opening up and flourishing. As it continues to grow, it’s important to provide opportunities and guidance for local creatives to carve out their career on their own terms.
The support, whether that is practical guidance, networking, or bouncing ideas around, alongside the valuable financial support from Film AlUla, will hopefully enable the filmmakers to not only create beautiful short films that can be showcased on an international platform, but also gain invaluable insights into the film industry and how productions from across the globe operate.”

Haifaa Al Mansour, Award-winning filmmaker

“Through the judging process we have had a front row seat to the incredible talent of up-and-coming Saudi filmmakers. We had some extremely difficult decisions to make, but the winning filmmakers all blew us away with the ambition and quality of their storytelling. Working with the filmmakers this week, against the breathtaking backdrop of AlUla, has inspired everyone and we look forward to continuing to support them through the development and production process.”
James Richardson and Jane Moore, Vertigo Films

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