It seems the Venice Film Festival can’t get enough of Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour.
After screening her debut feature film ‘Wadjda’ at last year’s festival, they’ve asked her to return – this time as a judge.
Al-Mansour will be president of the International Jury for the ‘Luigi De Laurentiis’ Venice Award for a Debut Film at this year’s 70th International Venice Film Festival.
“It’s quite an honor to be in the jury in Venice. It’s an amazing honor,” says film director Al-Mansour.
“They gave me the first time to launch ‘Wadjda.’ It was a great premiere and I can’t wait to be back in Venice again. It [judging] is not about picking holes in someone else’s work but as much as seeing the potential and seeing what they’ve done really great and celebrating it. And that’s how I always go about it and I hope that the jury agree.”
Shot on location in Riyadh, ‘Wadjda’ tells the story of an enterprising young girl who dreams of owning her own bicycle and is determined to buy one against all odds.
Al-Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first female feature filmmaker.
Her work has been met by mixed response in her home country, despite receiving widespread acclaim at film festival around the world.
“This is such a competitive business and let alone from a place like Saudi where there is no tradition, there is no infrastructure, there is no history that you can build on. So I think it’s very important to believe in the cause and never give up, even when things are really, really dark. Making this film, I stayed five years making this film so I’m glad it’s out now,” Al-Mansour says.
‘Wadjda’ won Best Film at the 9th Dubai International Film Festival and was released internationally earlier this year.
The Venice Film Festival kicks off on August 28 and wraps up on the 7th of September.