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‘Raven Song’ Writer-Director Mohammed Al Salman On KSA’s Oscar Entry

“I made this film for the local audience,” said Saudi Arabian writer-director Mohamed Al Salman of his debut feature Raven Song, which is KSA’s official submission for the International Oscar category this year. 

The story, which expands on themes from Al Salman’s previous short films, focuses on Nasser who, at the age of 30, is drifting and convinced his father doesn’t understand him. His life comes into sharp focus when he is diagnosed with a brain tumor and then meets an enigmatic young woman. 

The film is playing in official competition at the Red Sea International Film Festival and Al Salman and supporting actor Ibraheem Alkhairallah came into Deadline’s Red Sea Studio to talk about the project. 

“As a local, you can understand why he’s speaking that way and why he’s doing [things],” said Al Salman of the project, which he shot in the capital city of Riyadh. 

The duo talked at length about Saudi Arabia opening up culturally to the world and gave their experiences of how rapidly the country has changed since it lifted its 35-year religion-related ban on cinema. 

Alkhairallah spoke how people in the eastern provinces, Al Salman included, would drive to neighbouring countries like Bahrain to go to the cinema and Al Salman reflected that while there had been an art scene of some kind in KSA “it wasn’t as thriving as it is now.” 

“We’ve got all the stories and nobody knows about it,” said Alkhairallah. “I know a lot of people in the States thought we move with camels still, but no it’s not like that here. There’s a lot of rich stories, a lot of love stories, a lot of action stories. This is our mission we need to tell the stories from this amazing country.” 

Al Salman added: “Saudi people are very good consumers for entertainment.” 

Take a look at the video above.

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