Female Filmmaker Friday: Haifaa Al-Mansour, First Female Saudi Arabian Filmmaker

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"There will be ups and downs; it is not an easy struggle when you come from where I come from, but it is a struggle worth living for."

The culture is changing. Slowly...slowly, but surely. Even in places like Saudi Arabia, one of the most conservative countries on earth. It is also home to Haiffa Al-Mansour, who became one of three recipients of the 25th Annual Crystal Award for achievement in cultural leadership, which she will receive later this month.

Al-Mansour is the first female Saudi filmmaker. In 2005, Al-Mansour’s documentary Women Without Shadows was a breakthrough in Saudi Arabia, inspiring a new group of filmmakers from the country. Her feature film debut, Wadja, is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. It made its debut at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. It was entered in the Best Foreign Language Film category in the 2014 Academy Awards. It was the first time Saudi Arabia submitted a film in this category.

In 2017, Al-Mansour directed and co-wrote Mary Shelley about the life of the author of Frankenstein, staring Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth. In 2018, she directed Nappily Ever After for Netflix.

Recently, Haiffa Al-Mansour was the first artist from the Arabian Gulf region to be asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It's clear Al-Mansour is making waves, not only in film, but in the culture.

Watch this interview with Haiffa Al-Mansour on her thoughts on the importance of women in film: