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Producers at The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, (Ithra) have announced that production has wrapped on their experimental feature, JOUD (pronounced ‘Jude’) directed by multi-award-winning Andrew Lancaster (The Lost Aviator, Accidents Happen) and scored by Jerry Lane, composer for the Oscar nominated film, Theeb. Production took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with additional filming in 16 locations across the Kingdom, including Tabuk, Mecca and Ha’il.
Confirmed to be the first feature produced by The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, in association with The Edge Picture Company in London, JOUD pushes the boundaries of the filmmaking experience both in the Kingdom and abroad.
JOUD was shot entirely in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in an experimental format Saudi audiences haven’t seen before. The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, due to open to the public in late 2017, is a not-for-profit cultural hub – a modern home for art and innovation that will present change for local Saudis and the world. Any proceeds from the distribution of JOUD will go into a fund, managed and administered by the Center, that provides annual grants to support budding Saudi filmmakers.
JOUD dares to forgo words, trading dialogue for a purely original score which dances with life and bold imagery of the unimaginable to guide audiences on a visceral meditation through an ancient form of Arabic storytelling as old as time itself.
The film plays with time, space and the human experience to push its viewers to look below the surface of everyday experiences and contemplate the film’s Arabic title, translated as “generosity in the face of scarcity.”
The film is produced by Abdullah Aleyaf and Todd Albert Nims of The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture in association with the UK’s The Edge Picture Company, and its award-winning production team headed by Executive Producer and Founder Phil Blundell.
Saudi award-winning filmmaker, Producer Abdullah Aleyaf said of the project, “JOUD is a cinematic first in many ways for the Kingdom and we think its uniqueness will open eyes to the rich stories we have hidden in our people and landscape.”
Saudi-born American Producer, Todd Albert Nims commented, “JOUD is an ambitious production in that it chooses to avoid the use of narration or dialogue to engage audiences. With JOUD, we wish to challenge the viewer and ourselves to go beyond words and wrestle with elemental questions of what is given and received in life’s journey.”
Director Andrew Lancaster said of the film: “Without dialogue to carry the story, I wanted to jolt the audience into an immersive, rhythmic and visceral experience, opening up a world of intrigue, wonder and delight that challenges preconceptions of Arabian culture. I approached the visual narrative in unexpected ways using aerial photography and symmetry, paying homage to ancient Islamic geometry, revealing hidden landscapes and unique stories from ancient tombs to teenage gamers. The balance between natural beauty and man-made technology is bridged by the cinematic score and rhythmic edit, constantly flowing, from dark to light, keeping the screen alive.”
Composer of the film’s score, Jerry Lane added “JOUD is a rare blend which goes beyond traditional and modern to form a work which is original and completely contemporary. There is everything from a Bedouin lute player recorded in the Mountains of the Azir to a full orchestral recording with London Contemporary Orchestra.”
Lancaster shoots a screenplay from Safya Al-Marri and Hussam Alhulwah, using an experimental story structure derived from a pre-Islamic form of poetry, the “Qasida,” dubbing the film as an “ancient poem for modern times.”