AMPAS ’16: Haifaa al-Mansour

AMPAS ADDS WOMEN DIRECTORS: With our commitment to reviewing all new releases written and/or directed by women, FF2 Media now plays an important role in breaking down barriers. AMPAS invited 683 new members this year, 49 of whom are female directors. Who are they? What are their stories? We already know them, and we are here to tell you!


Haifaa al-Mansour is the eighth (out of twelve) child of the poet Abdul Rahman Mansour, who encouraged her to study comparative literature at the American University in Cairo. She later went on to attend film school in Sydney, Australia.

She began her filmmaking career with three shorts, Who?, The Bitter Journey and The Only Way Out. She followed these with the documentary Women Without Shadows, which deals with the hidden lives of women in Arab States of the Persian Gulf. It was shown at 17 international festivals and received the Golden Dagger for Best Documentary in the Muscat Film Festival and a special jury mention in the fourth Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam.

Her feature debut, Wadjda, which she wrote as well as directed, made its world premiere at the 2012 Venice Film Festival; it is the first full-length feature to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and through 2013, the only feature-length film made in Saudi Arabia by a female director.

Excerpt of FF2 Media review of Wadjda from September 13, 2013:

“Superlative first feature by Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudia Arabia’s first female director) cleverly puts spunky tween “Wadjda” (Waad Mohammed) in the foreground, but the film is really about the weight of societal pressure bearing down on her mother (Reem Abdullah) at home & her principal (Ahd) at school.

A MUST SEE! Wadjda will simultaneously break your heart & make it soar!!! (JLH: 4.5/5)”

To read the full review:

To read more about Haifaa al-Mansour:

Top Photo: Reem Abdullah as “Mother,” Waad Mohammed as “Wadjda,” and Sultan Al Assaf as “Father” in Wadjda.

Bottom Photo: Whenever “Father” (Sultan Al Assaf) comes to visit, then a man’s home is his castle.

Photo Credits: Tobias Kownatzki © Razor Film (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

Tags: AMPAS, Female Directors, FF2 Media, Haifaa al-Mansour, Oscar Nominations, Oscar So White, Stop Blue Oscar, Wadjida

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