Saudi students from Effat University are seen at a booth promoting their Visual and Digital Production program on March 24, 2016 at the Saudi Film Festival the Gulf coast city of Dammam. / AFP / Akeel Hussein al-Ali
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Officially it's not called "filmmaking" because public cinemas are banned in Saudi Arabia.But making movies is exactly what about 150 students -- all of them women -- are doing at the kingdom's all-female Effat University in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Bentley Brown, an American filmmaker who teaches screenwriting and interactive media at Effat, said about 13 of the students have films or screenplays among the 125 works in the juried five-day competition.Although public cinemas are not allowed in Saudi Arabia there is a growing interest in cinema and filmmaking, as reflected in Effat's program and the re-emergence of the Saudi Film Festival last year after a seven-year absence.The absence of cinemas is no reason not to "tell the story" that needs to be told on film, says Rawan Namngani, 21, who entered a short personal documentary in the Jeddah festival.A cinema is just one of many platforms where films can be shown, she said.
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