DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour’s female empowerment feature project “Miss Camel” is the winner of the IWC Filmmaker Award, worth $100,000, awarded during the Dubai International Film Festival.
A jury headed by Cate Blanchett selected “Miss Camel” as the winner among four Arab projects. Blanchett announced the winner during a gala event Thursday evening at the One&Only Royal Mirage hotel in Dubai.
Al Mansour made waves in 2013 with “Wadjda,” about a 10-year-old Saudi girl who wants to ride a bicycle even though it is forbidden for her in her country.
She more recently directed English-language biopic “Mary Shelley” starring Elle Fanning which world premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was recently picked up for U.S. distribution by IFC Films.
The long-gestating “Miss Camel” project is about a Saudi teen named Hayla “who will do anything to escape her arranged marriage and fulfil her goal of attending art school outside of Saudi Arabia,” according to its synopsis.
“While scheming to make her way to the in-person interviews for the art college in a neighbouring Gulf state, Hayla makes a startling discovery at her cousin’s wedding – she can talk to animals.” Thus begins the teen’s rapport with a beautiful camel named Melwah with which she travels across the kingdom to compete in the Miss Camel beauty pageant in Doha, challenging the deep-rooted restrictions of her culture.
The 14th edition of DIFF runs Dec. 6-13.