The Evolution of Saudi Cinema: A Look at Director Mahmoud Sabbagh’s Latest Film

The Evolution of Saudi Cinema: A Look at Director Mahmoud Sabbagh’s Latest Film

Saudi director Mahmoud Sabbagh, known for his international hit Barakah Meets Barakah, is gearing up for the theatrical release of his third feature film. The movie, titled Last Party In R. Desert, was shot in Saudi Arabia and promises to push boundaries in its depiction of the country during a time of significant change.

Last Party In R. Desert is a dark comedy that follows Najm, a cash-driven local impresario, as he navigates the nightlife scene with his music troupe. The film explores themes of professional strife and societal shifts in contemporary Saudi Arabia. As the story unfolds over the course of one night, viewers are taken on a journey filled with twists, turns, and disruptions.

Cast and Production

Abdullah Albarrak stars as Najm in the film, alongside Marwa Salem as the troupe’s new lead singer Cola. The movie also features the late actor Sami Hanafi and renowned musician Radwan Jifri. Sabbagh wrote and directed the feature, further solidifying his position as a leading figure in Saudi cinema. The film is a co-production between El-Housh Productions and Nine Projects, with distribution by Front Row Arabia.

Impact of Previous Works

Sabbagh made history with his 2016 film Barakah Meets Barakah, which was one of the first Saudi feature films to be shot following the country’s 35-year cinema ban. The romantic comedy premiered at prestigious international film festivals and was well-received by audiences worldwide. Following the success of Barakah Meets Barakah, Sabbagh continued to push boundaries with his second feature, Amra and the Second Marriage, which premiered in Cairo.

Contributions to Saudi Cinema

In addition to his work in filmmaking, Sabbagh has been instrumental in fostering cinema culture in Jeddah. In 2019, he opened Cinema El-Housh, the city’s first official art house cinema, providing a platform for independent and international films. Sabbagh’s dedication to promoting diverse stories and voices in Saudi Arabia has had a lasting impact on the country’s evolving film industry.

Despite facing challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Red Sea International Film Festival, Sabbagh remains committed to his craft. His latest film, Last Party In R. Desert, represents a continuation of his exploration of Saudi society through the lens of cinema. As the country’s film industry continues to grow and evolve, Sabbagh’s contributions will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping its future.


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