Is This the Future of Saudi Society?

Haifaa Al Mansour’s new film delves deep into the kingdom

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Haifaa Al Mansour landed on the international film circuit with her first critically acclaimed (and controversial) film ‘Wadjda’, back in 2012, Since then, all eyes have been on the director – who is Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker. 

This week, her hotly anticipated feature ‘The Perfect Candidate’ made its debut at the 76th Venice Film Festival, and now an official trailer has been released. 

Just like her first film ‘Wadjda’, Al Mansour’s new film is yet another ode to feminism. The filmmaker delves deep into Saudi Arabia’s social fabric through the eyes of her protagonist: Dr. Maryam, played by Saudi actress Mila Alzahrani. Maryam goes against all odds and runs for municipal council.

The film, which is the first to be supported by Saudi Arabia’s newly founded Saudi Film Council, opens with a scene where Dr. Maryam is seen driving off in her car (a right that Saudi women gained in 2018). The opening scene is one of many that subtly touch on the major changes currently taking place in the kingdom. 

From women’s rights to the nation’s relationship with music, Al Mansour manages to tackle the nation’s culture through the eyes of Maryam—an unprecedented move, especially by a Saudi director. 

And it’s no surprise, Al Mansour is unapologetically enthused about the changes Saudi Arabia is going through. “Saudi Arabia is going through great times. Women can now drive and art is celebrated. Encouraging freedom in the arts and culture is fundamental and this will have a great influence on society. I’m super excited” she told us last September. 

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