Faris Godus. (AN Photo/Thamer Alfuraiji)
Speaking to Arab News, Alem told of his experience of playing the main character, and how he felt bringing the story to life on screen.
“Faris wrote an incredibly personal story, in more ways than one. You can imagine the character of Husam as an amalgamation of both of us, in a way. Reliving ten years’ worth of past experience, my passion for cinema and filmmaking, and the mischief we used to get up to in school, was an incredibly personal experience,” he said.
He hopes that viewers would leave the film feeling like they can relate to the characters, or that they could consider the characters in the film their friends.
“It’s basically a character film. The story is great, but you can’t help but fall in love with these characters first,” he said.
Baraa Alem. (AN Photo/Thamer Alfuraiji)
Though the “movie-within-a-movie” premise is hardly a new one, the film offers a refreshing twist on an old trope. The film is a glorious, nostalgic romp through Jeddah in 2010, during the golden age of the Saudi YouTube movement. Peppered with references to Saudi pop culture and offering an interesting take on the history of Saudi cinema and television.
The film also features moments that are poignant, emotionally taxing, and familiar to any Saudis who dreamt of working in the creative industry ten years ago. It also highlights the often-vicious comments that are the bread-and-butter of Saudi YouTubers, in one of the film’s most emotional sequences.
The laughs are almost non-stop, even interspersed with surprising moments of tenderness and wisdom. The film perfectly encapsulates the complex feelings of an entire generation of Saudi youth, who struggled before the current era to imagine a future when creative professions could ever be taken seriously.
Shams AlMa’arif showcases the trials and tribulations of becoming a filmmaker in Saudi Arabia in an age where actors and directors needed to be creative in order to see their visions achieved, battling a lack of resources, support from society, and access to locations for filming.
Shams AlMa’arif is now available to watch in MUVI cinemas across Saudi Arabia and will be available in all cinemas by July 31st.