Debut film from Saudi Arabian writer/director Shahad Ameen debuts at Venice Film Festival
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Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s newest feature film Scales had its world premiere to a sold-out audience this week at the Venice International Film Festival, as part of the prestigious Critics’ Week competition.
Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr) is the debut feature film from Saudi Arabian writer-director Shahad Ameen. This imaginative film explores the changing role of women in society through the story of a young girl who chooses to define her own destiny and defy her village’s tradition of sacrificing female children to mysterious creatures living in the sea. Based on Ameen’s award-winning short film, Scales was shot on location in Oman, where the sea and rocky environment create a dystopian, black and white landscape.
The world’s oldest film festival and one of the most prestigious, Venice International Film Festival is widely seen as a testing ground for future award-winning films. Following a competitive submissions process, Scales was selected as one of seven films premiering as part of the prestigious Critics’ Week competition.
“The story of Scales is an allegorical retelling of experiences that I and many other women around the world have lived through. Although it is set in a timeless, dystopian landscape, the film addresses contemporary themes through magical realism, and takes a poetic approach to storytelling that is defined by metaphor and symbolism,” said Shahad Ameen. “Creating Scales was a collaborative and inspiring process. I am deeply grateful to the talented cast and crew, and to partners like Image Nation who supported me in bringing my vision to life.”
“Being selected for the competitive Critics’ Week in Venice is a real honor for this intriguing film, and a testament to the growing global recognition for the Arab world’s film industry,” said Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer, Image Nation. “Image Nation is proud to support creative filmmakers like Shahad who are exploring new ways to tell nuanced stories, and our pipeline of projects is full of exciting young talents working in diverse genres and styles.”
Scales stars Basima Hajjar as Hayat, alongside Ashraf Barhom (Coriolanus, Clash of the Titans, The Kingdom), Yagoub Alfarhan (Ekhtraq, Bedoon Filter, Love Without Limits) and Fatima Al Taei (star of Image Nation’s courtroom drama Justice). The film was produced by Paul Miller and Stephen Strachan of Abu Dhabi-based Film Solutions and Rula Nasser of Imaginarium Films, with executive producers Mohamed Al-Daradji and Majid Al-Ansari.
Scales was produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the award-winning film and entertainment company which has built its reputation on breaking boundaries and unleashing imagination. With a strong track record of producing high-quality productions through a combination of local talent and international expertise, Image Nation’s successes have spanned the globe, and it counts two Academy Awards, a BAFTA and an Emmy as well as more than 400 screenings at prestigious film festivals among its honors.
About Shahad Ameen
Writer-director Shahad Ameen was born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Video Production and Film Studies from the University of West London, and also holds a degree in Screenwriting. Her short films include Our Own Musical and Leila’s Window (2011), which showed at the Gulf Film Festival and was named Best Film at the Saudi Film Festival.
Her short film Eye & Mermaid (2013) premiered at Dubai International Film Festival 2013 and was selected for competition at Toronto International Film Festival 2014, Stockholm Film Festival 2014 and Kortfilmfestivalen 2014 in Norway. Eye & Mermaid was awarded First Prize in the Emirates Film Competition and Best Cinematography at the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival 2014 and was the winner of the Best Fiction, International Competition at the NDU International Film Festival 2014. Scales was picked as a finalist for the prestigious IWC award at the Dubai International Film Festival 2015. Scales is Shahad’s debut feature film.
• 'Our Own Musical' (2009)
• 'Leila’s Window' (2011)
• 'Eye & Mermaid' (2013)
• ‘Scales’ (2019)