A great moment for the Kingdom

Saudi Arabia director Haifaa Al-Mansour is no stranger to breaking down barriers. After all, back in 2013 she made history when her movie Wadjda became the Kingdom’s first film submission to the Academy Awards. Now, not only is her latest project the only Arab movie to be nominated at the festival, she is also one of the only two female directors, in a line-up of 21, to have films screened at the 76th Venice Film Festival.

Over the weekend, Haifaa walked the red-carpet in support of her newest film, A Perfect Candidate. It is a drama about a young female doctor Maryam, played by Saudi actress Mila Alzahrani, who runs for public office and tackles gender-based obstacles along the way. The director, the film’s protagonist and Dhay, who plays Selma represented the movie at the Festival. The two actresses championed Saudi designer, Eman Alajlan on the red-carpet, repping the Kingdom.


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Moreover, the three women walked the carpet ahead of the film’s premiere, which received a standing ovation from the audience. Mila shared a clip from film’s press-conference which she captioned: “I am happy to be here as a Saudi at the Venice Film Festival and stand on the red carpet as the heroine of The Perfect Candidate,” she writes. “It is the only Arab film nominated for the award and has won the admiration of the most prominent international critics. We are very proud of this achievement.”


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This is a great moment for Saudi women and cinema, as the changes that the country is making it easier for filmmakers. Back in 2012, Haifaa had to direct parts of her Wadjda while concealed in the back of a van. At the press conference, the director spoke about how the Gulf Nation is more open now. “I don’t have to be in a van now,” she said. “I personally want more women to participate in politics and be active members in society and it’s going to be hard because societies are still conservative and families don’t want women to take office or be in public.”

“But there is a momentum change in Saudi Arabia now and it is a chance of women to take advantage of it.” Just last month, a decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques officially allows women to travel independently without permission.

Watch The Perfect Candidate’s trailer now:

Fingers crossed they win!

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