Female-Made Film: 5 Saudi Woman Directors Premiere Their Feature At CIFF

The Cairo International Film Festival has started, and it’s already breaking boundaries! The much-anticipated 43rd edition lasts from the 26th of November to the 5th of December, and so far there has been so many things that caught our attention, from the fashion, the jury members, the international premieres, and the awards, to the 5 Saudi Arabian female directors that are putting Saudi female filmmakers on the map!

The Saudi film is called Bolough, and its first international premiere was at the opening ceremony of the CIFF. The 70-minute film tells five different stories of Saudi women, each is created by a Saudi female director. The leading women behind the project are Hind Alfahhad, Jowaher Alamri, Noor Alameer, Sara Mesfer, and Fatima Al-Banawi.

There was a special discussion with the 5 directors after the premiere of the film, and a lot was said about it and its making.

Opening doors for Arab cinema, the female-made film discusses social issues faced by Arabs, and especially Arab women, from different perspectives; navigating the lives of 5 different women. Bolough takes a deep look into the human psyche of Saudi women when under pressure, suffering, worried, and scared. Each storyline follows a woman, with her own narrative, displaying the disparity in the lives of Saudi Arabian women.

The title of the film, Bolough, translates in Arabic to puberty, however, that’s not the intended meaning; here it is used as a metaphor for achievement, referring to the daily accomplishments of Saudi men and women.

The star of the film, Elham Ali, stated that she’s so excited and happy to be a part of the Cairo International Film Festival!

Meet The Directors

Fatima Al-Banawi is a director, actress, and writer. She’s had triumphs before this moment; in 2017 Barakah Meets Barakah, a film she starred in, was chosen by Saudi Arabia to be the official entry for Foreign Language at the Academy Award. Currently, she teaches acting in Saudi Arabia, and one of the most important lessons that she is all about is not to fake it!

During the discussion of Bolough, Fatima had a lot to say about her film. In a series of statements she explained that the title is a symbol of the societal struggle of Saudis; it’s sort of a sarcastic metaphor of how we go through daily life, facing the unexpected! Moreover, she added that the film is of personal importance to her, because it’s not easy to discuss taboo ideas in our part of the world, so she knew she had to be smart in making it; evidently, she succeeded in presenting such themes in a subtle manner allowing the audience the freedom to explore and think critically.

Sara Mesfer is a Saudi Arabian director with a bachelor’s in cinematic arts from Effat University in Saudi Arabia. Her short film, The Girls Who Burned The Night, caused its own fuss in the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival. She believes that the production of films is not easy in Saudi Arabia. Thus making Bolough has been a huge challenge.

Jowaher Alamri is a director and producer. Her short film Sadeya Left Sultan won the jury award at the Saudi Arabia Festival. Jowaher thinks that Saudis were raised listening to stories, and now that there’s a chance for them to tell their stories, they’re taking that chance, and they’re not stopping.

Hind Al Fahhad is a director, with a jury award from the Dubai International Film Festival for her short film Basta. During the discussion of Bolough she stated that choosing the stars of the film was a hard challenge. Additionally, she said, “It has been a unique experience participating in a film alongside fellow Saudi women directors, all telling stories around womanhood in distinctive ways.”

Noor Alameer, the writer and director has many short films to her name. She said that making Bolough has been a unique experience, especially working alongside Saudi women directors, all to tell stories about womanhood. It was definitely a challenge.

The Cairo International Film Festival is ongoing until next Sunday. The event follows the safety measures and guidelines of the Egyptian government and the World Health Organization. All to ensure the safety of all event attendees.

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