Haifaa Al Mansour’s “The Perfect Candidate,” about a Saudi doctor who challenges the patriarchal system in her country by running in municipal elections, has been selected as Saudi Arabia’s contender for the international feature film Oscar.
The tale of female empowerment and individualism, which screened at Venice and Toronto, is Saudi Arabia’s first Oscar submission after a longstanding religious ban on cinema in the kingdom was lifted in 2017. 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’s acclaimed debut feature, “Wadjda,” was the first film that Saudi Arabia submitted to the Academy in 2012, before the ban was lifted.
Produced by LA-based Al-Mansour and Brad Niemann, with Berlin-based Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul of Razor Film Produktion, “The Perfect Candidate” is the first film to be supported by the Saudi Film Council, which was launched at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The film marks the director’s return to her homeland to shoot a movie after working in Hollywood on romancer “Mary Shelley,” starring Elle Fanning, and Netflix comedy “Nappily Ever After.”
Sold internationally by The Match Factory, “The Perfect Candidate” was recently bought by Modern Films for distribution in the U.K.