RIYADH: Appearing on “The Mayman Show,” Saudi film producer and media consultant Roua Al-Madani expressed optimism about the development of “Saudiwood,” or the Saudi film industry, acknowledging the need for a robust infrastructure, which would play a pivotal role in facilitating film production, distribution, and exhibition in the Kingdom.
“I believe the government … is investing a lot in building the infrastructure,” she said, adding that this foundation “will not come from Hollywood or Bollywood or (European) cinema. It should come from us.”
Al-Madani stressed the need to invest in Arab talents during this year’s Venice Film Festival, where she participated in a panel discussion titled “The Golden Time for Arab Talents Regionally and Internationally.”
She is currently involved with the Red Sea International Film Festival as a consultant for protocol matters concerning VIP guests, as well as regional and local talents. The festival will take place in Jeddah from Nov. 30-Dec. 9.
On “The Mayman Show,” Al-Madani discussed two documentary projects she is currently working on, both of which center on the theme of human journey. The first project, titled “Darb Al-Hijra,” follows two adventurers who retrace the road Prophet Muhammad took from Makkah to Madinah. It is scheduled for release at the end of September.
The other project, coming out in January, follows a climber’s journey to the summit of Mount Everest. He is joined by renowned mountaineer Nirmal Purja, known for his Netflix documentary “14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible.”
She is also directing her attention to the film industry closer to her home, serving as director of development for Film AlUla, an agency established in 2020. “I’m presenting AlUla around the world internationally and (regionally) in events, to attract more production … (and) more businesses that … could be beneficial for the film industry in AlUla,” she said.
Much like Ibraheem Al-Khairallah, the creative director and partner of Telfaz11, who recently discussed NEOM’s potential for film production on “The Mayman Show,” Al-Madani sees AlUla — with its rich desert landscape, oases and historical sites — as yet another Saudi city offering plenty of opportunities and potential. “It has all the elements to be international,” she said.
Al-Madani began her career in advertising as an account manager but gradually and intuitively moved toward creative department, ultimately finding her true passion in the field of producing.
“Sometimes you don’t know what you are doing, but all you know is that you have to do it,” she said. She encouraged young talents in the Kingdom to, above all, have faith in themselves.
“I want them also to not force themselves to do things that they don’t have to do. And also, they don’t have to know everything. They have to know one thing, love it and concentrate on it and do it right,” she said.