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Haifaa al-Mansour (Arabic: هيفاء المنصور; born 10 August 1974) is a Saudi Arabian film director. She is one of the country's best-known and most controversial directors, and the first female Saudi filmmaker.
Haifaa al-Mansour is the eighth (out of twelve) child of the poet Abdul Rahman Mansour, who introduced her to films by video, there being no movie theaters in Saudi Arabia between 1983 and 2018. One of her favourite actors was Jackie Chan. She is from Al Zulfi but grew up in Al-Hasa.
With her father's encouragement, she studied comparative literature at The American University in Cairo. She later completed a Masters’ degree in Film Studies from University of Sydney, Australia.
She began her filmmaking career with three shorts, Who?, The Bitter Journey and The Only Way Out. The Only Way Out won prizes in the United Arab Emirates and in the Netherlands. She followed these with the documentary Women Without Shadows, which deals with the hidden lives of women in Arab States of the Persian Gulf. It was shown at 17 international festivals. The film received the Golden Dagger for Best Documentary in the Muscat Film Festival and a special jury mention in the fourth Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam. Haifaa al-Mansour was a guest at the 28th Three Continents Festival in Nantes, France.
Her feature debut, Wadjda, which she wrote as well as directed, made its world premiere at the 2012 Venice Film Festival; it is the first full-length feature to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and as of 2013, the only feature-length film made in Saudi Arabia by a female director. Wadjda tells the story of a 10-year-old girl growing up in the suburbs of Riyadh, who dreams of owning and riding a green bicycle. The film was backed by Rotana, the film production company of Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Wadjda was selected as the Saudi Arabian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, which is the first time Saudi Arabia has submitted a film for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. The project had been developed in 2009 during the Gulf screenwriting lab, a collaboration between TorinoFilmLab and Dubai International Film Festival.
She did not intend that her film work focus on women’s issues, but found them too important to not address. Both Who? and Women Without Shadows deal with the custom of abaya. She has received hate mail and criticism for being unreligious, which she denies. She does, however, feel that Saudi Arabia needs to take a more critical view of its culture. She also received praise from Saudis for encouraging discussion on topics usually considered taboo.
In 2014 it was reported that al-Mansour was to direct A Storm in the Stars, an upcoming romantic drama film about the early life of writer Mary Shelley. The film was later retitled Mary Shelley and premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
|1997||Who? (من؟)||Yes||Short film|
|2000||The Bitter Journey (الرحيل المر)||Yes||Documentary|
|2001||The Only Way Out (أنا والآخر)||Yes||Short film|
|2005||Women Without Shadows (نساء بلا الظل)||Yes||Documentary|
|2018||Nappily Ever After||Yes|
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