Top Saudi Arabian Film Distributor CineWaves Opens Office in China

Saudi Arabia’s top local film distribution player CineWaves Films has announced the opening of a China office that it claims makes it the first Arab cultural entity to establish a physical presence in the world’s second-largest movie market.

The official announcement was made over the weekend during the Arab-Chinese Animation Forum by Zha Yindong, the deputy mayor of the city of Suzhou; and Saudi film industry pioneer Faisal Baltyuor, founder and CEO of CineWaves Films, in the presence of Chinese government representatives and cultural sectors.

“There are a lot of initiatives that are being taken in Saudi Arabia when it comes to cinema,” Baltyuor told Variety Tuesday on the sidelines of the Venice Film Festival. “There are collaborations with Hollywood and with Europe in the West, but I didn’t see any initiatives being taken towards the Far East.”

That’s why few years ago Baltyour went to China and tried to connect. “I tried to understand what’s going on,” Baltyour added. “And it took me a few years to analyse the situation. Finally we have taken this step to open an office in China where we build that bridge.”

“Cinewaves Films’ Chinese office is a significant milestone in international cultural cooperation,” said in a statement Feng Qian, CEO of China’s Suzhou-based Ori Group, which is active in film and TV and focuses on financing, production and global distribution.

“This will help to advance Sino-Arab development in the cultural and audio-visual industry,” he added, noting that the CineWaves office will carry out business in China “in the fields of financing, co-production, distribution [and] talent cultivation.”

Baltyuor underlined that through the partnership with Ori Group, CineWaves “will not only participate in the production of Chinese animation films, but also encourage them to consider the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for shooting and will also facilitate the distribution of these films across the Arab world.”

CineWaves Films has several co-production collaborations in place with other countries, most of which in the Arab world. They recently co-produced the Sudanese film “Goodbye Julia,” directed by Mohamed Kordofani, which was the first Sudanese film to premiere at Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Regard section’s Freedom Award.

CineWaves Films also recently partnered with prominent Egyptian indie Film Clinic to distribute its Arab language films in Saudi Arabia.

The company’s library of Saudi films includes “Scales” by Shahad Ameen, which launched from Venice in 2019; “The Book Of Sun” by Faris Godus; “The Tambour Of Retribution” by Abdulaziz Alshlahei; and “Valley Road” by Khalid Fahad.

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