After screening at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, Haifaa Al Mansour‘s The Perfect Candidate has been selected as Saudi Arabia’s contender for the international feature film Oscar. The film tells the story of a young female physician with political ambitions in a male-dominated society, who runs for municipal office while her father is away touring the country.
The selection was made by the Saudi Academy Awards Committee, an independent group of filmmakers and cinema figures chaired by local director and producer Abdullah Aleyaf.
Al Mansour is known for making history as the first female Saudi filmmaker with the award-winning Wadjda which was the first feature-length film to be shot entirely in the conservative Gulf country and was the Kingdom’s first film submission to the Academy Awards before the ban was lifted.
The Perfect Candidate stars Mila Al Zahrani, Nora Al Awadh and Dae Al Hilali, and is co-produced by Al Mansour Productions in Saudi Arabia and Berlin’s Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul of Razor Film Produktion (who also helped Al Mansour produce Wadjda). The film is also the first one to be backed by the country’s national film organization, the Saudi Film Council, which was established during the 2018 Cannes Film Festival as a platform to nurture creative talent in the kingdom.
The film marked the return of the Saudi filmmaker to her homeland to work on a movie after she worked in Hollywood on Mary Shelley (2017), a biopic about the English writer of Frankenstein, and a film adaptation of Trisha R. Thomas’ Nappily Ever After (2018). “There is something different about me returning to my country, it is a different experience than any other, and I saw the change after I came back. I found so many actresses who came forward for the casting of the lead role, which really surprised me,” the director previously shared with Vogue.me.