Katie Holmes Talks Mentoring Saudi Arabian Female Filmmakers: ‘I Think It’s Important to Really Highlight the Good That’s Happening’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Katie Holmes has come on board as a filmmaking mentor to work with Saudi Arabia’s Film AlUla, the entity located in a sprawling area of desert, giant boulders and ancient artifacts that is becoming a local film production hub and starting to attract international productions and talents.

The program, announced during the Cannes Film Festival, is the second part of the AlUla Creates initiative set up to nurture future generations of Saudi Arabian talent in the areas of film, the arts and fashion. Holmes is teaming up with Film AlUla to identify three emerging female Saudi directors whom she will then mentor throughout the year as their projects are spawned.

Variety in Cannes spoke exclusively to Katie Holmes and Film AlUla executive director Charlene Deleon-Jones about the spirit and goals of their partnership.

How did the collaboration germinate?

Charlene Deleon-Jones

Initially we were looking for directors, producers that would be of interest. But you hit gold when you have someone who embodies a number of these aspects. That’s really how it started. It’s the old saying:  “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” With Katie, from a mentorship perspective you immediately elevate for the younger women involved what they think is possible.

Ketie, what does this experience mean to you?

Katie Holmes 

This country is a contradiction. I am very excited for the women in Saudi Arabia where things have been opening up. I think it’s important as a woman who has had opportunities my whole life to go towards highlighting the good things that are happening. Hopefully I can help some of these women in terms of maybe giving them some ideas for building on their artistic expression. I am very excited to get to know these women and hear their stories and help them track these stories.

I think I will learn a lot. We have an idea of women in Saudi Arabia. But I want to get to know the individuals and I want to know what it’s been like and what they want to talk about. I’m excited and I’m open to learning. I think it’s important to really highlight the good that’s happening.

Who will will be able to benefit from this program?


We will have some directors that are established and some that are not as established. There are some locally really well-known female storytellers who are ready for that next step. And then the other side of that is a whole host of women who are maybe just thinking about it for the first time. Who are at school or university. We are looking at both. With regards to numbers, we are not just building a studio, or looking at financing and policy. We are also building an entire workforce, a whole film and screen sector community, and this is part of that. It’s a long term program.

Katie, how do you see your role in terms of what knowledge you can impart?


What I’ve been told is that there is an opportunity to enhance scripts. So I think I will really be working on the developmental part of the process. That’s actually one of my favorite parts. Tearing images from magazines and organizing the whole vision of the film. And listening to ideas and maybe just going through them. I don’t know of they do read-throughs. Sitting down and saying: ‘What do you want to achieve in this moment?” I think those little things can help, but I’m not sure yet. That’s what’e been important to me, when I’m talking to other filmmakers. It’s usually just that pre-shooting time that is so important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *