Known to be the country’s most controversial and progressive director working today, Haifaa al-Mansour is also Saudi Arabia’s first female director.
Regarded as the most prominent figures in the industry today, Mansour studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo and completed a master’s degree from the University of Sydney.
With a plethora of successful projects on her side, Mansour is the first artist from the Arabian Gulf region to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Mansour is now back with another one of her masterpieces, this time a Saudi film “The Perfect Candidate”. As she talks about her latest project, Mansour says that “The Perfect Candidate” is a story that is caught in the midst of a society that is now evolving and progressing to more liberal ideas.
She says: “It is the younger generation, who haven’t gone through all the history, who are able to embrace change faster. It’s still very conservative, but they have more opportunities than my generation”.
It after almost 7 years that Mansour has directed a Saudi movie and the film has already claimed accolades of praise around the world.
Cinemas that just opened only 2 years ago in the Kingdom have received the Hollywood films well but are still not experienced with a local creation as the market is hugely “untested waters” still. Mansour says: “I think it’s been a success, especially [for] American films. But we don’t know how they will react to a local film, as we don’t understand the box office in the Middle East very well.”
On being asked how her experience was different now as compared to directing in 2012, Mansour agreeing that it was a different world back then, said:” There were some people who tried to stop us; they wanted to kick us out. We called the police and the police told them, “You cannot stop them. They’re here and you have to respect that.” It’s something that never happened before.
Wadjda was Al-Mansour’s feature debut, first fictional feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a woman director. “The Perfect Candidate” is a movie about young female doctor, Maryam, who decides to run for local office and the difficulties she faces in a deeply conservative society.