06-24 November 2019



New American Perspectives
Haifaa Al-Mansour

Saudi Arabia, Germany

2019 / 101’ / Hawaii Premiere / Arabic


As part of the New American Perspectives program, this screening will be followed by a special extended 'Master Class' discussion with director Haifaa Al-Mansour, this year's feature spotlight filmmaker. 

After her debut feature WADJDA (2012) broke new ground as the first-ever film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia — and the first made by a Saudi woman — director Haifaa Al-Mansour shifted to Hollywood with the biopic MARY SHELLEY (2017) and Netflix's NAPPILY EVER AFTER (2018). Now, she returns to the kingdom with THE PERFECT CANDIDATE, a tale of one woman's quest to challenge not only the system but also herself.

Maryam (Mila Alzahrani, making her debut) works passionately as a doctor in a small-town clinic — though some men refuse her care because of her gender. Maryam has a musical father who, after the passing of her mother, kept the matriarch's spirit alive in his support of his three girls. But when he goes off on tour, Maryam is unable to renew her travel permit — until very recently, Saudi women were not allowed to travel without the permission of a male guardian — and misses a medical conference. Frustrated by this as well as the attitudes she comes up against at the clinic, Maryam is convinced it's time to take matters into her own hands: she's going to run for local council.

What follows is a touching family drama, as Maryam, with her sisters' help, tries to win over the hearts, but mainly the minds, of the men who think she has no place in the public sphere. As with WADJDA, Al-Mansour explores the pressing issue of women's rights through the microcosm of one character, showing that change may be slow to come, yet it can start with the smallest act of bravery. — Kiva Reardon


Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia. The success of her three short films, as well as the international acclaim of her award winning 2005 documentary WOMEN WITHOUT SHADOWS, influenced a new wave of Saudi filmmakers. Al Mansour’s acclaimed 2012 film WADJDA received numerous awards and accolades at festivals around the world. In 2017 Al Mansour released MARY SHELLEY, starring Elle Fanning and Douglas Booth. In 2018 she released the Netflix film NAPPILY EVER AFTER, starring Sanaa Lathan. She recently directed an episode of an untitled Chris Keyser series scheduled to debut on Netflix in 2019, and an episode of THE GOOD LORD BIRD for Showtime. Her latest film THE PERFECT CANDIDATE had a phenomenal debut at both Venice and Toronto Film Festival this year.

Saturday 16 15:00 - 17:31Regal Dole Cannery 16
DirectorHaifaa Al-Mansour.
CastNora Al Awadh, Dae Al Hilali, Mila Al Zahrani, Khalid Abdulraheem and Shafi Alharthy.
ScreenplayHaifaa Al-Mansour and Brad Niemann.
CinematographerPatrick Orth.

Haifaa Al-Mansour ... producer
Fahad Alsuwayan ... executive producer
Faisal Baltyuor ... executive producer
Christian Granderath ... executive producer
Gerhard Meixner ... producer
AbdulAziz Al Mutairi ... associate producer
Ole Nicolaisen ... line producer
Brad Niemann ... producer
Roman Paul ... producer
Rena Ronson ... executive producer
Flora Rumpler ... assistant producer
Christiane Sommer ... line producer

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