JEDDAH: Following a series of successful releases by Saudi filmmakers over the past few years, Haifa Al-Mansour’s latest film will be screened in Germany, dubbed into German — a first for any Saudi film.
Supported by the Saudi Film Council, “The Perfect Candidate” or “Die Perfekte Kandidatin” is the producer’s latest comedic drama, made with German producers Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul of Razor Film Produktion. The film will make its debut in Germany on March 12, 2020.
While most countries show foreign language films in their original version with added subtitles, Germany, as well as many European countries, has dominated the foreign movie scene by providing dubbed versions for their audience, an ideal method of conveying messages to bridge the gap between the “foreign” and “familiar.”
“Thanks to Haifa Al-Mansour and other Saudi artists, together with the opening of the country, Saudi Arabia is a rising star in the German cultural scene,” said Holger Ziegeler, German consul general in Jeddah, to Arab News.
Thanks to Haifa Al-Mansour and other Saudi artists, together with the opening of the country, Saudi Arabia is a rising star in the German cultural scene.
Holger Ziegeler, German consul general in Jeddah
“A few years ago, “Barakah Meets Barakah” (a film by Saudi filmmaker Mahmoud Sabbagh) from Jeddah made it into German cinemas with subtitles and it’s the next step that a movie from Saudi Arabia will now be released in German cinemas in the German language. I congratulate the co-producers on this decision and, knowing the story of the movie, I am certain that it will have huge success in Germany,” he said.
Dr. Mohamed Hegazy, a Cairo-born doctor who was raised in Jeddah, and is continuing his medical studies in Freiburg, Germany, agreed with the consul general, telling Arab News that the German people were keen to know and understand Saudi society more.
“Dubbed films grab people’s attention more in Germany. The audience will get to see a different side of Saudi society, one that is not known to them and will fix previous misconceptions if they have any,” he said.
Having lived in Freiburg for eight years now, he sees that there is much more acceptance of independent films, as they allow glimpses of different cultures through different lenses.
“I took a class on film 2014 in Berlin. There I learnt that German cinema really appreciates the human story above all else. They celebrate the very sentiments that make us human,” Afnan Linjawi, a Saudi screenwriter and 2014 German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) student told Arab News. “They are also very proud of their language and everything there is always translated into German.
“I think having Al-Mansour’s movie screened in German is just a testimony of her success. She made a commercially viable film out of an underdog story of a Saudi woman, a topic that was often categorized as a ‘humanitarian’ or ‘independent’ genre.”
Linjawi recommends international viewers watch films in their original language to be able to experience the authenticity behind the films, adding that the Saudi cultural bureau in Germany should host a special screening of the film in Arabic, subtitled in German.
“The Perfect Candidate” tells the story of Dr. Maryam, played by Mila Alzahrani, who is determined to advance her career but is prohibited from traveling abroad for a medical conference without her guardian’s consent. The film addresses several issues, from female empowerment to breaking cultural norms in an ever-growing and changing society.
Al-Mansour portrayed the women in the film as leaders taking matters into their own hands, progressing toward development on both an economic and social scale.
I took a class on film 2014 in Berlin. There I learnt that German cinema really appreciates the human story above all else. They celebrate the very sentiments that make us human.
Afnan Linjawi, Saudi screenwriter and 2014 German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) student
“Through her journey, I wanted to show an optimistic view of the role women can play in Saudi society and the contributions they can make toward forging their own destinies,” said Al-Mansour in her director’s comment on the Venice Biennale website.
“The subtext of the film focuses on the need to celebrate and honor our strong cultural and artistic traditions, and to let them guide the efforts to develop and modernize the country,” she continued.
The film initially screened at the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 28, 2019, and it also screened at several others including Toronto, Zurich, London and Busan in Korea.
It was selected for the Golden Lion Award at the 76th Venice International Film Festival as well as Saudi Arabia’s entry for the Best International Feature Film in the 92nd Academy Awards.