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As Saudi Arabia’s Cinema Ban Ends, Filmmakers Eye New Opportunities

As Saudi Arabia’s Cinema Ban Ends, Filmmakers Eye New Opportunities
April 21, 2018 Elijah James Logan

An elite group of movie lovers in the Saudi capital Riyadh got a special treat on Wednesday — a screening of the Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther . The invitation-only event marked the lifting of a ban on cinemas that’s lasted more than three decades. It also heralds a new era for Saudi filmmakers, who for years have faced harassment from Saudi authorities for pursuing a profession considered haram , or forbidden, in the ultra-conservative kingdom. One of those filmmakers is 30-year-old Abdulrahman Khawj, the founder of Cinepoetics Production Company in the western port city of Jeddah. The rooms in his studio — a transformed apartment — are bright and cluttered with film posters. He’s named the rooms in a nod to film legends: in one corner is the Charlie Kaufman writing room; in another, there’s the Thelma Schoonmaker editing lab. Khawj has several projects in the works, including a movie called Eight Other People, about a group of siblings who discover on the night before the Eid

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