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Filmmaking as therapy

by F.S. (The Economist)

When Haifaa al-Mansour graduated from the American university in Cairo and returned home to Saudi Arabia to work, she was struck by how invisible she felt as a young woman. She turned to film-making as a kind of therapy. “It gave me a voice,” she says.

Almost two decades later, Ms al-Mansour has become the first Saudi Arabian woman to direct a feature film. “Wadjda” is the first film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, a country where cinemas are banned. Rules are slackening, though—select films are now shown on television and the government arranges very occasional public screenings. Ms al-Mansour’s film, which hinges on a rebellious 11-year-old girl’s desire to buy a bike (taboo for girls in the kingdom), will not be on general release at home. But it is being screened internationally and has won numerous awards abroad, including three at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

Ms al-Mansour now lives in Bahrain with her American husband and their two children. She spoke to The Economist about directing from behind the veil, treating conservatism with respect and her own love of Hollywood.

Read the rest of this article from The Economist.

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