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
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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.”


Palestinian student film ‘Ambiance’ honored at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival

Updated 24 May 2019
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Palestinian student film ‘Ambiance’ honored at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival

  • The film is directed by Wisam al-Jafari of Palestine’s Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture
  • It follows the story of two young Palestinians trying to record a music demo inside a noisy refugee camp

DUBAI: Palestinian film “Ambiance” headed into a podium finish at the 22nd Cinéfondation Selection, the Cannes Film Festival’s top film school shorts awards, beating out more than 2,000 submissions.

The film, which is directed by Wisam al-Jafari of Palestine’s Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture, landed third place with Polish entry “Duszyczka” by Barbara Rupik.

Praised for its “humor, coolness, and extraordinary use of cinema and sound,” the short film follows the story of two young Palestinians trying to record a music demo inside a noisy refugee camp.

The top prize was handed to “Mano a Mano” by Louise Courvoisier from France, followed by “Hieu” by Richard Van from the US.

The award was presented on Thursday by a jury headed by French director Claire Denis. Cash grants of up to $16,760 were given to the winners.

Aimed at supporting new and emerging talent in filmmaking, the Cinéfondation Selection chooses fifteen to twenty short and medium-length films each year from film schools all around the world.