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Freitag, Ulrike

Thinking of the City through Film and Cinema: Roll’em


Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, Special Issue: Urban Cultures in the Gulf from a Historical Media Perspective, 15, 3 (September)

S. 241-258


The Saudi film Roll’em (director Abd al-Illah al-Qurashi, Jeddah, 2019) tells the story of a young would-be film director and his dream to make a film about his native Jeddah. Shot just before the official opening of cinemas in the country, Roll’em was filmed at the beginning of an enormous boost to the Saudi entertainment industry. The film engages the history of filmmaking and cinema in Saudi Arabia, as well as the search by a young generation for historical identity and social participation. Filmmaking and cinema emerge as an important way to make sense of the present. This article positions Roll’em within the current socio-cultural transformation of Saudi Arabia.