Interview with Saudi Film Director, Abdullah Al Eyaf
Mirza al-Khuwaylidi

Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat- “Cinema 500 km” by Saudi director Abdullah Al Eyaf summarizes the story of the Saudi youth and the cinema industry known as the seventh art. Some people consider the symbolic distance referred to in the title optimistic.

The docufilm, “Cinema 500 Km” is director Al Eyaf’s first production. It presents a daring concept of Saudi’s young population in love with the cinema. The film places a question mark over the non-existent cinemas in Saudi Arabia through the journey of a young man who loves films and is forced to leave the country that he loves in order to enjoy his first experience of watching a film in a cinema. What is interesting is that the young man has been a film enthusiast for years through videos and satellite channels, a fact that makes this experience a momentous one for him.

The movie was filmed in Riyadh, Khobar, and Bahrain. It was shown at the Emirates film competition in Abu Dhabi, at the Arab Film Festival in Paris, at the Arab Film Festival in Amsterdam, Holland, and during the Saudi Cultural Days in both Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt.

Al Eyaf has a vision of the development of the cinema industry in Saudi Arabia. In an interview with Asharq Al Awsat from Dammam, Al Eyaf talks about the cultural and artistic scene that influences and is influenced by the development of the seventh art in Saudi Arabia.

Asharq Alawsat runs this interview, and it’s worth reading! I first mentioned this film back in February of last year, noting that it was an important advance in Saudi cultural change. Al-Eyaf is certainly cerebral about what he’s doing. And the interviewer asks the right questions, starting with:

Q: How can a society with no cinema industry produce any creative directors?


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