Six Windows in the Desert: Saudi Short Films on Netflix

Six Windows in the Desert is a series of six short films from Saudi Arabia that was acquired by Netflix last February and offered to viewers in 190 countries. The short films shed light on social issues, taboos and extremism in Saudi Arabia, some inspired by real events and others are fiction stories.

Although the films are released together as part of a TV series, they are each about a different story, with different crews.

“This is how Telfaz11 Studios works,” Mohamed Abou Joda, former producer and production manager at Telfaz11 Studios, the production company behind the series, said in a phone interview. “There is no sequence of events and the idea behind that is to break the barrier of boredom.”    

The films may not be free of shortcomings, but they remain original Saudi films that open windows through which one can view some of the social changes happening in Saudi Arabia and the talent that is emerging from the country.

“It is true that Saudi Arabia does not have colleges for directing and producing films,” Abou Joda said. “I didn’t study film making but I was schooled in my experience working with Telfaz11 Studios.” 

The six short films are:

Wasati (2016):  Ali Kalthami, the film director, tells a story inspired by real events about a theater play called “Wasati Bela Wasatiya (A Moderate Without Moderation)” that was attacked by a group of extremists. The film won Best Director and Best Foreign Film at the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in 2017.

The films are not free of shortcomings, but they remain original Saudi films that open windows to discuss Saudi Arabia generally and the talent that is emerging from the country. 

The six short films hereunder the production of Telfaz11; a YouTube channel. It was started by four Saudi young men: Fahd Al Bitiri, Ibrahim Khair Allah, Alaa Yousef and Ali Kalthami to produce short films.  

“It is true that Saudi Arabia does not have colleges for directing and producing films,” Abou Joda said. “I didn’t study film making but I was schooled in my experience working with Telfaz.” 

Abou Joda also considers Telfaz a steppingstone for numerous actors and actresses as it was “the first to ever give them a chance to develop and grow.”  

Picture of the Telfaz11 crew in Los Angelos courtesy of their Instagram.

Netflix recently got the rights to host the six short films on its platform and it is an opportunity for the audience to get to know Saudi content creators and their works as this is the first Saudi film to be available on Netflix. 

Translated by: Raghad Murad

Edited by: Farah Mohamed

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