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Haifaa al-Monsour is Saudi Arabia’s first female director. She burst into world view with her first feature film, Wadjda, about a young Saudi girl who becomes a student of the Koran in order to win a bicycle in a contest. The Perfect Candidate is a much more complex and nuanced film, with a story and a cast of characters who are so engaging, a viewer is left wanting a sequel.
The film starts with a problem increasingly irritating Maryam, a young woman Saudi doctor: an unpaved, rutted and constantly flooded street leading to the doors of her clinic makes access next to impossible for patients and ambulances alike. Frustrated by the failure of her entreaties to the local authorities to fix the problem, Maryam decides to run for her local city council to get things done. She is assisted by her two sisters—the older an enthusiastic wedding player, and the younger a reluctant teenager—and also by the grandson of a crotchety old man he has brought to the hospital after an accident. The elderly gentleman insists upon being examined by a real (male) doctor, and remains a thorn in Maryam’s side until he admits that he voted for her. Maryam’s father is a professional musician, who is constantly on the road playing traditional music. He and his best friend, another musician, become an amusing Greek chorus as Maryam’s campaign progresses, both agreeing that nothing can be done about daughters.
Dramatic comedy, Saudi Arabia – 104 Minutes
About the Filmmaker
Haifaa-al-Mansour is regarded as one of Saudi Arabia’s most significant cinematic figures. She studied comparative literature at The American University in Cairo and completed a master’s degree from the University of Sydney. The success of her 2005 documentary, Women Without Shadows, influenced a new wave of Saudi filmmakers. Her debut feature, Wadjdaˆ, is the first fictional feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. It received wide critical acclaim after its premiere at the 2012 Venice Film Festival and was selected as the first-ever Saudi Arabian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. al-Mansour is the first artist from the Arabian Gulfregion to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Pictures in the USA.