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Film festival cancelled by 'official parties'

Saudi Arabia's only film festival has been cancelled, dealing a blow to hopes of an easing of clerical control over culture in a country where cinemas had been banned for almost three decades. Mamdouh Salem, one of the organisers of the Jeddah Film Festival, said yesterday:

"Late last night, the governorate of Jeddah notified us of the festival's cancellation, after it received instructions from official parties. We were not told why."