In the framework of the first film festival in Saudi Arabia, only three years after the opening of cinemas in the country, this Jordanian film which tells the story of four sisters and their struggle to have a place in society was given a standing ovation by a majority Saudi audience. This was an unprecedented screening, and a standing ovation revealing the many changes taking place in Saudi society.
The film tells the story of four sisters, very different from each other, who meet in their hometown in Jordan to visit their father, Abdul Rahman. But their lifestyles are so opposite that they cannot agree on anything, especially Samah, who does not mince her words (she is even rude) when confronted with one of her sisters, very conservative and who wears the full niqab.
Despite all this, the four young women find themselves facing the same difficulties: having to put on a brave face in front of a gossip-hungry neighborhood, and breaking free from societal constraints related to romantic relationships and their conditions as women.
“We wanted to promote the idea that anyone, woman or man, should be able to live as he or she wants, to do what makes him or her happy,” said the film’s producer, Aya Wuhoush, speaking to Kawa news.
A feminist and modern movie, which goes deep into the taboo subjects of the region without making grotesque caricatures. In a country where cinemas have only been open for three years, the showing of such a film, far from the restrictions imposed by the conservatives of the kingdom, is an event in itself.
Applause from the audience during 3 revealing scenes
If the film oscillates between dramatic, hilarious and poignant scenes, the Saudi audience reacted in an unexpected way during this première in Jeddah.
When one of the four sisters, who wears the full veil, finally decides to rebel against her abusive husband, the audience applauded and shouted “bravo” several times.
The same reaction when this woman decides to return the blows he had repeatedly given her: the audience, not only women, applauded for a long time.
The applause was even louder when one of the film’s central characters finally decides to speak her mind to the whole neighborhood, revealing some (not very nasty) secrets, but also a certain vulnerability.
At the end of the screening, many women from the audience went to meet the actresses to thank them, to hug them, to reveal that they were relieved to find themselves in some of the characters of the movie. Men also went to greet them, but especially to congratulate them for their talent as actresses.
There is a feeling of having attended a unique, even historic event in Jeddah, for the screening of a powerful movie, in a society that is in the midst of change.