A panel on May 18 brought together the actress, Film AlUla’s Charlene Deleon-Jones, program ambassador and model Eva Herzigova, and acclaimed Saudi actress and ambassador Mila Al-Zahrani to dig deeper into the nuances of the program in promoting and nurturing rising female talent in the Kingdom.
Deleon-Jones told Arab News: “I think Katie Holmes was a good choice because she’s an actor, but also someone who is directing and producing.
“She’s bringing in a range of skill sets and also had expressed interest in working with young women from Saudi, and it was important for us to have someone who’s really established and understood the screen sector of the film community and she was perfect for that.”
AlUla Creates is a platform designed to create an ecosystem around film, arts and fashion by nurturing creativity and empowering Saudi’s future generations.
Following the second phase of the program, which championed the fashion aspect of the film industry, the filmmaking mentor program will aim to elevate and support rising female Saudi talent by equipping them with the right tools and guidance.
Three filmmakers will be identified and mentored by Holmes and the AlUla Creates team, working to scout locations across AlUla’s desert landscape and develop a short film concept. The selected idea will continue to production early next year.
Holmes said during the panel: “I feel inspired because 70 percent of the population is under 30, so to hear the ideas that are coming from these women and to help in any way that I can to shape and give my thoughts — but it’s really about listening. I’m sure there’s so many stories that need to be told. I’m really excited, as an outsider, to really understand the experience.”
Launched in March earlier this year, the program’s first phase included a partnership with the British Fashion Council, Saudi actor Mila Al-Zahrani, Kloss Films founder Alec Maxwell, and fashion icons Helena Christensen and Eva Herzigova as ambassadors to support the long-term mission of the platform.
The initiative comes under Film AlUla’s strategy to further the film sector in Saudi through homegrown talent, while also supporting the AlUla region’s socio-economic development.
Al-Zahrani told Arab News: “AlUla is an artistic and inspiring region that’s truly influencing us as actors, artists, writers, fashion designers.
“Film AlUla has presented us with the AlUla Creates program to bring together all these crafts. As an actress, I need fashion designers. When they’re inspired, they’ll design for the characters themselves in a different way that represents us and our identity.”