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Mentoring Saudi Filmmakers: Katie Holmes Leads AlUla Creates Film Program

In 2023, during the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, renowned director, producer, and actress Katie Holmes (known for her work in Rare Objects, Alone Together, and Batman Begins) joined forces with Film AlUla to announce the next phase of “AlUla Creates.” This platform aims to foster creativity, empower future generations in film, arts, and fashion, and engage them in meaningful ways. An exclusive event took place in Cannes, where ambassadors Eva Herzigova and Saudi film actor Mila Al Zahrani, along with Charlene Deleon-Jones from Film AlUla, joined Holmes for a panel discussion to explore this initiative.

The second phase of AlUla Creates introduces a mentoring program for aspiring Saudi female filmmakers who aspire to shape the industry’s future. This program will elevate their careers by providing mentorship from renowned industry professionals and equipping them with the necessary tools to further develop their projects.

Leading the AlUla Creates film program is Katie Holmes herself, an accomplished director, actor, and producer known for her recent work in the captivating feature adaptation Rare Objects and the 2022 romantic drama Alone Together. Holmes has made a name for herself in television, theater, and film, gaining recognition for her breakout role in “Dawson’s Creek” and her participation in blockbuster hits like Batman Begins. She is also a passionate supporter of independent filmmaking.

Supported by Film AlUla through the AlUla Creates Initiative, Katie Holmes will collaborate to identify three emerging female Saudi filmmakers. Throughout the year, Holmes will mentor them, starting with a location scouting trip to the breathtaking region of AlUla in North West Saudi Arabia, where they will develop and structure a concept for a short film. The winning concept will be announced later this year and is scheduled for production in the first quarter of 2024 in AlUla.

The initial phase of AlUla Creates, launched in March 2023 alongside the 95th Academy Awards, focused on fashion. Founding Ambassadors Helena Christensen and Eva Herzigova teamed up with Saudi female fashion designers Alia and Abeer Olaif from Atelier Hekayat and Arwa Al Ammari from ArAm to create two unique looks for the Oscars Vanity Fair red carpet in LA. The ambassadors, including the supermodels, will continue their role in supporting emerging female creative talent from the region and play an integral part in the program’s future plans. The Saudi designers will also contribute to the film phase, working closely with the selected project’s filmmaker to design and create the costumes, bringing the story to life.

Charlene Deleon-Jones, Executive Director at Film AlUla, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration with Katie Holmes, stating that her vast experience in the entertainment industry will provide a unique and valuable perspective to the program’s participants. Holmes’ deep understanding of filmmaking, combined with her discipline and vision, will inspire and equip the mentees with both practical skills and inspiration. This collaboration aims to champion emerging filmmaking talent and solidify AlUla as a hub for creative content production while nurturing a diverse and vibrant film culture.

Katie Holmes also shared her thoughts, stating her belief in empowering women worldwide to pursue their ambitions. She expressed her joy in joining the Film AlUla Creates Program to support and enable female filmmakers from the region. Holmes eagerly anticipates experiencing the creativity these women have to offer and sharing her experiences and perspectives from behind the camera.

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