The only Arab entry competing at Venice Film Festival is shaping up to do very well
The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world and holds similar reputation to that of Cannes. The Perfect Candidate is the only Arab-born film to be screened in competition at the festival.
Much like Cannes, the Venice rendition is one of the most glitzy film affairs in the world. The main event, the competition to take home the top prize is comprised of 21 films this year, with one lone Arab contender.
Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour is a name you should know. Her breakout film back in 2012, Wadjda made waves at the Venice Film Festival back then. It was the first KSA foreign-language movie to receive an Oscar nomination and a first female-made film in Saudi Arabia.
Wadjda was a film about a rebellious, confident Saudi girl whom wanted to ride a bike in her own country, where it was not allowed.
She is one of three women on the new 13-member board of the Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia which will oversee cultural and artistic development in Saudi Arabia.
Fast forward to now, her 2019 film The Perfect Candidate is just as empowering and politically charged.
Haifaa Al Mansour
“When I started making films — I started in 2005, when my first short came out — people didn’t believe in cinema in Saudi Arabia,” she told AFP. “But Saudi Arabia has changed. It will be wonderful to be part of the evolution of film in the country. It is very important to make films there, especially with Saudi Arabia embracing films and allowing film theatres”.
The Perfect Candidate is about a young female doctor with the dream of shattering the patriarchal expectations and restrictions put upon her by the men around her. The film follows the woman taking the task of running for municipal office in KSA.
The film comes as KSA, famously super-conservative, begins to relax certain laws such as the circulation of films and the rights of women in day to day life.
The film is one of 21 hoping to take home the prestigious Golden Lion award, if it does, it will show a major shift as the world comes to appreciate Saudi/Arab filmmaking.
The film festival runs from August 28 to September 7.