Saudi-directed film “Scales” hits big screens in the kingdom

The black and white film, which won an esteemed Verona Film Club award in the Venice International Film Festival Critics’ Week last year, “explores the changing role of women in society”.
Thursday 12/11/2020
Saudi director Shahad Ameen and actress Basima Hajjar at the premiere of the film “Scales.” (Image Nation Abu Dhabi)
Saudi director Shahad Ameen and actress Basima Hajjar at the premiere of the film “Scales.” (Image Nation Abu Dhabi)

Abu DHABI--Award-winning fantasy film “Scales” is being screened for the first time in Saudi Arabia after reaching a distribution deal with Saudi’s Cinewaves Films.

The feature film, made by the UAE’s Image Nation Abu Dhabi, is making its theatrical debut in cinemas in Riyadh, Jeddah, Tabuk, Jizan and the Eastern Province. Saudi film director Shahd Ameen, alongside stars Yagoub Al Farhan and Basima Hajjar, attended a socially distanced premiere in the Saudi capital Riyadh and participated in a Q&A session.

The black and white film, which won a Verona Film Club award in the Venice International Film Festival Critics’ Week last year, “explores the changing role of women in society through the poetic story of Hayat, a young girl who refuses to be sacrificed to mysterious sea creatures by her village,” according to a release by Image Nation Abu Dhabi.

“The black and white film follows the unfolding social, family and personal consequences of Hayat’s choice to defy tradition and walk her own path.”

Saudi director Shahad Ameen and actress Basima Hajjar at the premiere of the film “Scales.” (Image Nation Abu Dhabi)
Saudi director Shahad Ameen and actress Basima Hajjar at the premiere of the film “Scales.” (Image Nation Abu Dhabi)

Director Ameen, who gained recognition for her 2013 short film “Eye & Mermaid,” said “Scales” tackles “universal themes of belonging and self-determination,” but has a unique message for her Saudi audience.

“As a Saudi Arabian filmmaker, I feel it has a special significance for audiences in my home country,” said Ameen. “Through an allegorical tale, the film reflects on experiences that many women around the world have lived through, with a message of empowerment and independence that resonates with the region’s cultural and creative evolution, so I am delighted that its first cinema release in the world will be in Saudi Arabia.”

“’Scales’ tells a visceral story about growing up as a woman in a patriarchal society, offering an allegorical take on a universal theme that will resonate with audiences around the world,” Ameen said in a released statement.

The dystopian production features up and coming actor Basima Hajjar as Hayat, as well as Ashraf Barhom , Yagoub Alfarhan (Ekhtraq, Bedoon Filter, Love Without Limits) and Fatima Al Taei (star of Image Nation’s courtroom drama Justice). It was produced by Paul Miller and Stephen Strachan of Abu Dhabi-based Film Solutions and Rula Nasser of Imaginarium Films, with executive producers Mohamed Al-Daradji and Majid Al-Ansari.

 Actress Basima Hajjar plays the role of Hayat in the film “Scales.” (Image Nation Abu Dhabi)
Actress Basima Hajjar plays the role of Hayat in the film “Scales.” (Image Nation Abu Dhabi)

Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a pioneering film and entertainment industry with ambitions to expand in the Gulf and MENA region, views productions like “Scales” as central to its artistic vision.

“This nuanced, artistic project embraces film’s power to address important subjects like freedom and belonging,” said Ben Ross, chief content officer at Image Nation.

“Scales is part of Image Nation’s efforts to expand our slate to encompass more intriguing, specialty films alongside our more commercial projects. We foresee that Scales will be well-received on the festival circuit. This is a film that brings profound insights into contemporary culture. We hope that it will bring further recognition of the region’s growing maturity and sophistication.”