Haifaa Al-Mansour Reveals New Movie "The Perfect Candidate" | ExpatWoman.com

Saudi Arabia's First Female Filmmaker Returns With Her New Movie

The pioneering Saudi director premiered her upcoming movie at the Venice Film Festival

Posted on

3 September 2019

Last updated on 3 September 2019
Saudi Arabia's First Female Filmmaker Returns With Her New Movie

Photo credit: Christopher Patey/Contour by Getty Images

The new movie marks her return to the Saudi Arabia film scene

Director Haifaa Al-Mansour lit the way for female Saudi Arabian filmmakers with her short film "Who" in 1997. Then again in 2005 with "Women in the Shadows", a trailblazing piece that helped inspire the women's empowerment movement across the kingdom. In 2012, she made her mark in history as the first-ever female Saudi director with her internationally-acclaimed debut "Wadjda" - which also became the kingdom's first submission to the Oscars.

Now, Al-Mansour revisits her roots with a new movie set and shot in Saudi Arabia, which premiered at this year's 76th Venice Film Festival. Her new project "The Perfect Candidate" is another one for the history books as it's the first movie supported by the Saudi Film Council.

The film is a comedy-drama following a female Saudi doctor (played by newcomer actress Mila Alzahrani) who breaks new grounds by forgoing traditions and running for election in the kingdom. This happens while the young woman's father is away on tour with the re-established Saudi National Band, which was previously banned due to the law prohibiting public performances.

Written and produced by Los Angeles based Al-Mansour and Brad Niemann, along with Roman Paul and Gerhard Meixner from Razor Film Produktion in Berlin, "The Perfect Candidate" marks Al-Mansour's return to the Saudi film scene after years of being away working on international projects.

Film will highlight Saudi humour

While it's clear that the movie will present social issues in the kingdom, "The Perfect Candidate" will also showcase Saudi Arabian humour.

“We have a great sense of humor that people don’t see,” Al-Mansour told Arab News. “In film, we can show that — it’s something people will discover [...] how in Saudi there is a huge distinction between what is public and what is private. In private, people sing, have fun, and are fluid. Once people go out they are reserved, because that is the way the culture is. With film, you will get a chance to see how people are in private. This is the only way that people can see who we are — by opening our heart through film.”

Saudi Arabia's First Female Filmmaker Returns With Her New Movie

Pictured, from left to right: Dhay, Haifaa Al-Mansour, and Mila Alzahrani / Photo credit: Getty Images

The only Arab movie nominated at the Venice Film Festival

Al-Mansour's new work is one of the only two feature films directed by women at the 11-day movie event, including being the only Arab movie nominated for an award. The film received mostly glowing responses, with a standing ovation after its premiere at the festival.

At the red carpet of the Venice Film Festival, the Saudi director was joined by Mila Alzahrani, the protagonist of the movie, and Dhay, who plays Selma.

Al-Mansour's main goal is to have "The Perfect Candidate" showing in Saudi Arabia theatre screens.

Alzahrani shared on her Instagram that she is happy to represent as a Saudi at the Venice Film Festival and to stand on the red carpet as the heroine of the film.

Her caption read that the film "has won the admiration of the most prominent international critics. We are very proud of this achievement.”