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First Saudi Film To Feature in Venice Film Festival's Official Competition Is by a Female Director

Haifaa Al Mansour on set of her film, Wadjda

From August 28 to September 9, the 76th edition of the Venice International Film Festival will bring together the best films, directors, audiences, and more from across the globe to the Italian city, and this time Saudi Arabia will be present at the world-renowned festival in a big way. Known as Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour will not only be at the event but her film “The Perfect Candidate” has been selected to compete with 14 other international films for the Golden Lion.

According to Saudi Gazette, “The Perfect Candidate” is the first Saudi film, and reportedly the only one from the region this year, to feature in the official competition of the Venice Film Festival. As explained by Variety last year, Al-Mansour’s film is “a comedic drama about a young female physician who maneuvers through her conservative, male-dominated society to run in municipal elections.” Al-Mansour will be competing for the Golden Lion –the highest prize given to a film at the Festival – with other international directors such as Canadian Atom Egoyan, Roy Andersson from Sweden, and Hirokazu Kore-eda from Japan.

Al-Mansour’s first film to show at the Venice Film Festival was her first break-out feature in 2012, “Wadjda,” which tells the story of a Saudi girl who dreams of owning a bicycle. The film, which Al-Mansour not only directed but also wrote, made history as Saudi Arabia’s first full-length feature to be shot entirely in the Kingdom and also as the country’s first foreign-language Oscar entry. In 2018, she was once again present at the Festival, showcasing her unique brand of cinema with a female empowerment-themed “The Wedding Singer’s Daughter,” a short film shown as part of the Prada-commissioned Miu Miu Women’s Tales.

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