Distributor Modern Films has opted to give an online release to “The Perfect Candidate” in the U.K., as an alternative to the planned theatrical release, which has been put back as British movie theaters shutter due to coronavirus.
The film by Haifaa Al Mansour, the trailblazing Saudi director of “Wadjda,” was scheduled for theatrical release on March 27. Modern Films attributed the decision to the “current time of uncertainty around cinemagoing and the COVID-19 virus,” and said it preferred this route to canceling or postponing the release. The company plans to release it in theaters as soon as possible.
The partner on the online release is Curzon Cinemas, through their Curzon Home Cinema platform. It will also be available on the BFI Player, as the British Film Institute is supporting the film release through their Lottery-funded Audience Fund, and on Modern Film’s own streaming space via modernfilms.com.
Modern Films managing director Eve Gabereau said that “as the campaign is already in progress, the feeling is to keep moving with it, but to put live events back to a later date when audiences will be able to participate and engage in person.” She added that “in line with the spirit of the film as a timely story, and of Al Mansour as a brave director who is fighting for socio-political change through art and expression, we are committed to offering ‘The Perfect Candidate’ as readily as possible without compromising the current wider health concerns, and code of conduct around social distancing.”
The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last year, and went on to play in competition at the BFI London Film Festival, and at Sundance this year. It was selected as an “Essential Film of 2020” by The Guardian, alongside “1917,” “Parasite,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the upcoming “Rocks,” and the postponed “No Time to Die.”
In a statement, the company said: “The impetus behind the decision is to offer a new film to audiences at home while public places and gatherings are limited and major releases are being pushed back. This differs from the release pattern known as day-and-date in that Modern Films plans to release the film in cinemas in due course. The digital release will act as a precursor to a wider offering. It will be a sign of solidarity and support for the arts and culture if U.K. viewers actively participate in on-demand viewings on release.”
“The Perfect Candidate” is about a determined young Saudi doctor’s surprise run for office in the local city elections, which sweeps up her family and community as they struggle to accept their town’s first female candidate.
Al Mansour’s “Wadjda” (2012) was the first feature film ever to be shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia. It was invited to more than 40 festivals worldwide.