RIYADH, December 12 (CIC) – Trailblazing Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour, whose film “Miss Camel” recently won the IWC Filmmaker Award at the Dubai International Film Festival, hailed the Kingdom’s landmark decision on Monday to allow cinemas for the first time in more than 35 years.
“It is a beautiful day in #SaudiArabia!” Mansour said on her official Twitter account on Monday.
“Saudi Arabia says cinemas to get licenses in early 2018,” noted the ground-breaking female director.
In an announcement earlier on Monday, the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) said in an official statement that commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018. The Board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), chaired by the Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awwad Alawwad, passed a resolution allowing GCAM to grant licenses to cinemas, including commercial providers.
For filmmakers such as Al Mansour, whose films have been making a splash abroad, the government’s decision has met a long-running demand by them.
“What a beautiful life; there’s pride and happiness at home. Stay tuned for our films in our land finally, God willing. It’s a historic day; congratulations to Saudi filmmakers,” tweeted Al Mansour.
Australian film star and director Cate Blanchett headed a jury that selected Al Mansour’s feature project “Miss Camel”, raking in the $100,000 award, at a ceremony on Thursday night during the 14th edition of the December 6-13 film festival in Dubai.
“Miss Camel” beat a number of films from the Arab world – the feature film “Animal” by Emirati director and producer Nayla Al Khaja; “Kombars” by Bahraini director Rashed Buali and “The Crown of Olives” by Omani filmmaker Muzna Almusafer.
“Miss Camel” is the story Hayla, a teenaged Saudi girl, who is keen to escape an arranged marriage and discovers that she can talk to animals, and befriends, Melwah, a camel with which she travels to compete in a Miss Camel beauty pageant.
Al Mansour’s 2012 film “Wadjda” had made a splash. It was the first feature film shot in its entirety in the Kingdom and the first feature-length film by a female Saudi director. It was also the first Saudi film to be entered for consideration to be a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards in 2013. She also directed “Mary Shelley”, a 2017 English-language biopic starring Elle Fanning, Maisie Williams, Douglas Booth and Ben Hardy. “Mary Shelley” recently screened at the Toronto Film Festival.