Monday, December 17, 2012

Female Saudi filmmaker wins award at Dubai filmfestival

   Haifaa Al Mansour with the main actors in her film, 11-year old Waad Mohammad, who plays Wadjda, and 10-year old Abdulrahman Al Gohani 

The Saudi movie “Wadjda”, directed by Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, Haifaa Al Mansour, won the “Muhr” award for the best Arabic feature film at the Dubai Film Festival on Sunday. The film tells the story of a little girl’s quest to own a bicycle in the kingdom where women are deprived of many rights. The film was shot entirely in the kingdom where cinemas are banned. Waad Mohammed (11), who plays the role of Wadjda, the girl in the film who is testing the boundaries of a woman’s place in a highly conservative society where her love for Western music and fashions land her in trouble, got the award for the best actress.
Saudi's first female filmmaker on her new release, Wadjda
Haifaa al-Mansour
Mansour, born in 1974, studied literature at the American University in Cairo and film at the University of Sydney. Before Wadjda she directed three short films and the award-winning documentary Women Without Shadows about women in the Gulf. She is the first Saudi Arabian woman to direct a feature film. But the “te fact that we shot a film in Saudi Arabia with permission and everything says a lot about the country,'' she said. ''It says the country is embracing art,” she said. “Things are slowly changing.”
During the shooting Mansour was often forced to direct from a van with a walkie-talkie in conservative neighbourhoods where she could not be seen in public together with male crew and cast members. In some areas she had to face screaming local residents who would all shooting activity.
Also some Egyptian filmmakers and actors won awards. Dina Farouk won the Special Jury Prize for Harg wa Marg ('Chaos and Disorder'), a feature film that follows the lives of people living in an isolated community in a garbage dump. Ahmed Ibrahim's short film, Noor, won the Muhr Short Arab Feature award. It tells the story of a young boy who wants to decorate his neighbourhood with festive lights during Ramadan.

Amr Waked won Best Actor in the Muhr Arab Feature category for his performance in revolutionary film El-Sheta Illi Fat('Winter of Discontent'). Waked plays a retired political activist during last year's 18-day uprising that culminated in the ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak. Egypt's Aida El-Kashef, meanwhile, won Best Actress in the Muhr Asia-Africa Feature category for her performance in Indian film 'Ship of Theseus,' which explores several life questions through its chief protagonists: an experimental photographer, a monk and a young stockbroker. The award for the best Asia-Africa feature film went to the Turkish film “Yerlati” (Inside) by Zeki Demirkubuz.
The Dubai International Film Festival; festival lasted from 9 -16 December. Last year the award for the best film went to the Palestinian-Dutch filmmaker Susan Youssef for her film Habibi Rasak Kharba (Darling, there is something wrong with my head) a love story from Gaza, inspired by the classic Layla o Majnoon.     

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