Saudi Director Shahad Ameen Shooting Female Empowerment Road Movie ‘Hijra’ With CAA Handling U.S. Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

Saudi Arabian director Shahad Ameen, whose feminist fable “Scales” made a splash after launching from Venice in 2019, is back behind the camera on “Hijra,” an ambitious drama centered on the bond formed between different generations of Saudi women during a journey across the desert

Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 11:31:37 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 11:31:37

Saudi Arabian director Shahad Ameen, whose feminist fable “Scales” made a splash after launching from Venice in 2019, is back behind the camera on “Hijra,” an ambitious drama centered on the bond formed between different generations of Saudi women during a journey across the desert.

CAA is handling North American sales on “Hijra,” which is being shot in a vast swathe of desert and in several Saudi cities and urban areas including Jeddah, Medina, AlUla and Neom.

“Scales,” which was Ameen’s first film, was a parable on the position of women in Saudi’s patriarchal society. Her more high-end follow-up “highlights the role of women from different generations in building Saudi society,” according to the film’s provided synopsis.

“Hijra” (see first-look images, above and below) is the story of a grandmother’s journey with her two granddaughters from the city of Taif, in the Hijaz Mountains, to Mecca, the Saudi city that is the cradle of Islam. When the eldest granddaughter disappears, the grandmother and her young granddaughter travel to the north in search of the missing teenager.

“The cultural and aesthetic diversity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabiafeature strongly in the film through an intimate story that brings together a grandmother and her granddaughter on a poetic journey,” the synopsis notes.

In a statement, Ameen called “Hijra” “one of the most difficult films I have worked on” and described its narrative as being the tale of Saudi women from different generations and their conflicts within “a road film that highlights the cultural and historical diversity of the kingdom.”

Ameen developed “Hijra” over three years while worki -

ng with Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji as a producer, according to a statement. The film’s lead production companies are Biet Ameen Production, the Iraqi Independent Film Center and Saudi film industry pioneer Faisal Baltyuor’s Ideation Studio. Baltyour’s Cinewaves distribution company will distribute “Hijra” in Saudi Arabia. The film is also co-produced by Abboud Ayyash, line producer Sayed Abou Haidar and their company Three Arts, and by Egypt’s prominent producer Mohamed Hefzy, whose Film Clinic Indie Distribution will also handle sales and distribution in the Arab world. The Red Sea Film Festival Fund and Film AlUla are also co-producers. “Hijra” is supported by the Saudi Film Commission’s Daw Initiative and Neom, which provided incentives and on-the-ground support.

The “Hijra” cast comprises Saudi actor Khairia Nazmi (“Barakah Meets Barakah”), who plays the role of the grandmother named Sitti; Nawaf Al-Dhufairi (“The Fates Hotel”), who stars as a man named Ahmed; and newcomer Lamar Feddan in the role of Janna. Baraa Alam (“Hwjn”) appears as a guest star.

“Hijra” will be edited in Paris by the Oscar-nominated Hervé de Luze (“The Pianist”). The crew also comprises Chilean cinematographer Miguel Littin Menz (“The Vast of Night,” “Hands of Stone”) and British production designer Chris Richmond, among a largely Saudi and Arab team.

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