DUBAI: A fantasy film made in the UAE, and helmed by a Saudi director, is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival next month.
“Sayidat Al-Bahr,” or “Scales” in English, was created by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and directed by Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen.
The film tells the story of Hayat, a young girl living in a village with a tradition of sacrificing female children to mysterious sea-dwelling creatures. When her time comes, she decides to break with tradition and forge her own path.
Ameen — known for her short film “Eye & Mermaid,” which premiered at the Dubai Film Festival in 2013 — said that the film is an artistic comment on patriarchal societies.
“’Scales’ tells a visceral story about growing up as a woman in a patriarchal society, offering an allegorical take on a universal theme that will resonate with audiences around the world,” Ameen said in a released statement.
Shot in Oman, the Arab arthouse film is set to premiere as part of the Venice Critics’ Week competition.
In a statement, Ben Ross, chief content officer at Image Nation said, “This nuanced, artistic project embraces film’s power to address important subjects like freedom and belonging.
“’Scales’ is part of Image Nation’s efforts to expand our slate to encompass more intriguing, specialty films alongside our more commercial projects. We foresee that ‘Scales’ will be well-received on the festival circuit. This is a film that brings profound insights into contemporary culture.”
“Scales” stars Basima Hajjar as Hayat, as well as Ashraf Barhom and Fatima Al-Taei. The film was executive produced by Mohamed Al-Daradji and Majid Ansari.
Image Nation called the news a “great milestone” for Arab cinema.
“Great milestone for Arab cinema: Our latest narrative feature ‘Scales’ by Saudi director Shahad Ameen will have its world premiere at the Venice Critics’ Week competition next month — making it the first for our narrative films to premiere in Venice,” Image Nation said in a tweet.
The Venice Film Festival is one of the world’s leading film festivals, having made its debut in 1932. The festival is widely seen as a testing ground for Oscar-contenders, with the final lineup — set to be revealed later this week — including premieres from prestigious filmmakers.