Amid the glitz and glamour of the Venice Film Festival this week will be one solitary Arab contender battling it out to take home the prestigious Golden Lion Award.
The Perfect Candidate, by Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al Mansour, is the only Arab film to be screened in competition with 20 other international films.
The empowering and politically-charged film, which stars Mila Alzahrani, Nourah Al Awad, Dhae Al Hilali, is about a young female doctor with the dream of shattering the patriarchal expectations and restrictions put upon her by the men around her. The film follows the woman taking the task of running for municipal office in KSA.
It comes as the kingdom, famously conservative, begins to relax certain laws such as the circulation of films and the rights of women in day to day life.
Al-Mansour’s breakout film Wadjda made waves at the Venice Film Festival back in 2012. It was the first KSA foreign-language movie to receive an Oscar nomination and a first female-made film in Saudi Arabia.
Wadjda was a film about a rebellious, confident Saudi girl whom wanted to ride a bike in her own country, where it was not allowed.
“When I started making films - I started in 2005, when my first short came out - people didn’t believe in cinema in Saudi Arabia,” she previously told AFP. “But Saudi Arabia has changed. It will be wonderful to be part of the evolution of film in the country. It is very important to make films there, especially with Saudi Arabia embracing films and allowing film theatres.”
The film festival runs from August 28 to September 7.
Here are the 21 films competing for the prestigious Golden Lion award:
"La Verite" (The Truth), by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda -- opening film
"The Perfect Candidate", by Saudi Arabian director Haifaa al-Mansour
"About Endlessness", by Swedish director Roy Andersson
"Wasp Network", by French director Olivier Assayas
"Marriage Story", by US director Noah Baumbach
"Guest of Honour", by Canadian director Atom Egoyan
"Ad Astra", by US director James Gray
"A Herdade", by Portuguese director Tiago Guedes
"Gloria Mundi", by French director Robert Guediguian
"Waiting For The Barbarians", by Colombian director Ciro Guerra
"Ema", by Chilean director Pablo Larrain
"Lan xin da ju yuan" (Saturday Fiction) by Chinese director Lou Ye
"Martin Eden", by Italian director Pietro Marcello
"La Mafia Non e Piu Quella Di Una Volta" (The Mafia Is No Longer What It Used To Be), by Italian director Franco Maresco
"The Painted Bird", by Czech director Vaclav Marhoul
"Il Sindaco Del Rione Sanita" (The Mayor of Rione Sanita), by Italian director Mario Martone
"Babyteeth", by Australian director Shannon Murphy
"Joker", by US director Todd Phillips
"J'accuse", French-Polish director Roman Polanski
"The Laundromat", by US director Steven Soderbergh
"No.7 Cherry Lane", by Hong Kong director Yonfan