Saudi director’s second film ‘Amra and the Second Marriage’ wows premier audience in London

“Amra and the Second Marriage” is a dark comedy filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia. (BFI London Film Festival)
Updated 14 October 2018

Saudi director’s second film ‘Amra and the Second Marriage’ wows premier audience in London

  • The film was shown at the Vue cinema in Leicester Square as part of the BFI London Film Festival
  • Tickets for the dark comedy sold out soon after they went on sale

LONDON: The latest film from Saudi Director Mahmoud Sabbagh “Amra and the Second Marriage” premiered at the BFI London Film Festival 2018 on Saturday.

The film was shown at the Vue cinema in Leicester Square on Saturday, and will also be screened at the Curzon cinema in Soho on Sunday. 

Tickets for the dark comedy sold out soon after they went on sale, and the film proved to be as popular as its predecessor, Sabbagh’s debut feature “Barakah Meets Barakah.”

“Amra and the Second Marriage” tells the story of how a middle-aged housewife handles her husband’s decision to marry a second, younger wife.

The film, which stars Saudi actors Mohammad Alhamdan, Alshaima’a Tayeb, and Khairia Nazmi, was shot entirely in the Kingdom. 

During a question and answer session with Sabbagh, he was asked whether the film would be screened in Saudi Arabia. 

“This film was approved by a govermental body, so I’m hoping now with the building of the cinemas, it will be shown,” he said.

In an interview with Arab News in September, Sabbagh said: “Unlike my debut feature ‘Barakah Meets Barakah,’ which voiced millennials’ concerns about cosmopolitan Jeddah, this one touches on a heartland mainstream milieu. There’s a hyper-real element to it that serves not to estrange.” 

Tayeb, the lead actor who plays Amra, told Arab news at the premier the “success of the film is amazing."

"I had a feeling that this would be a beautiful script, there was amazing attention to details, the cast, and everything. For me it was like going into a museum, experiencing another Saudi lifestyle in a deserted area." 

She praised the director for knowing she would  “fit the role well”. The film is the first Tayeb has acted in. She has previously worked in advertising as one of the few women in the field in Saudi Arabia, in the fashion business, and is currently studying herbalism. Asked whether she would consider acting in the future, she said she would be interested in “inspiring, female rising films."

The scene that Tayeb said she enjoyed the most was when she places a scarf around her daughter’s head to take her to a religious lesson. She said that she felt that this was a universal moment. It reminded her of mothers who are convinced of something and force their daughters to do what they are so sure about, “there is an almost fanatic emotion behind it,” she said. 

Born in Jeddah in 1983, Sabbagh grew up heavily influenced by Egyptian films from the 1980s.

In 2011, he attended Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied documentary filmmaking and production.

Sabbagh returned to Jeddah after completing his master’s degree, and released his highly celebrated 2016 film “Barakah Meets Barakah”. 

The romantic comedy played on strict Saudi social conventions in a dramatically candid way.

It premiered at the 66th annual Berlin International Film Festival — the first Saudi feature film to do so — and was later selected as the Saudi entry for best foreign-language film at the 89th Academy Awards.

The following year, Sabbagh was appointed to the jury for the best first feature award at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

As for what is next, Sabbagh told Arab News in an earlier interview that he is interested as a director in the “idea of being able to go further, to do something that hasn’t been done before, to work harder with everyone else to bring the filmmaking experience to a more pleasant and accessible standard.”

Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

Updated 19 March 2019

Nora Attal has her day in the sun in Marrakesh

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model Nora Attal posed up a storm in Marrakesh’s golden sunlight for a new campaign by fashion brand Zara.

The in-demand model shared snaps from the campaign, photographed by Christian Macdonald, on her Instagram account.

The collection of photographs show Attal modelling looks from Zara’s laid-back Spring/Summer 2019 collection against a backdrop of rippling sand dunes. Her featured ensembled include kaftans and long-length cardigans with hefty stripes in a clay-and-beige color palette.

Attal is no stranger to fronting campaigns — in January, the model was chosen as one of seven rising stars to feature in British fashion house Alexander McQueen’s latest campaign.

The Spring/Summer 2019 collection photoshoot was shot by British fashion and documentary photographer Jamie Hawkesworth and featured Attal wearing a number of cowboy-inspired looks.

The year has gotten off to a busy start for Attal, who was similarly in demand in 2018, when she took to the catwalk for Elie Saab, Loewe and Dior during Paris Fashion Week in September and starred in Italian fashion label Versace’s summer advert campaign.

In May, luxury e-retailer Farfetch launched in the Middle East with a little help from the young model.

She starred in a photoshoot wearing pieces from collections on sale on the platform. The colorful photographs were accompanied by a snappy, chatty interview with the young model.
Readers got the chance to gain insight into her earliest fashion memories and learn some off-the-cuff facts about the star.

“Recently I’ve been obsessed with noughties trends. Everyone was so cool and effortless back then. Now I go out in a full Juicy Couture tracksuit with no shame,” she told Farfetch at the time.

“If I wasn’t a model, I’d probably be at university, studying to get into something like criminal investigations, profiling or law,” she added.

Attal finished off 2018 by hitting the sand dunes in the UAE — however, this time it wasn’t part of a high-end photoshoot, but rather a day of fun.

The model enjoyed an afternoon of sandboarding in the emirate of Sharjah and even posted a snap on Instagram at the time.

“Apparently sandboarding is a thing,” she captioned the sunset shot.