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Directed by Mahmoud Sabbagh

Saudi Arabia 2016 88 mins. In Arabic

In Saudi Arabia, physical contact and meeting the opposite sex in public without a chaperone are prohibited, which makes this lightly subversive romantic comedy so unexpected. Barakah, an amiable Jeddah municipal law enforcement officer of humble origins, falls for Bibi, a rebellious beauty and Instagram star from a wealthy family. As the young would-be couple attempts to get to know each other better, Sabbagh acerbically suggests that repressive traditions could be outpaced by a modern world of smartphones and social networking, even if there is still a ways to go. This year’s Saudi Arabian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Reviews: Cinema Scope, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian (UK)

Interviews: Interview with Fatima Al-Banawi, Hisham Fageeh & Mahmoud Sabbagh at The Movable Feast

 

First feature