The First Saudi Feature Film Shot in Riyadh
Ahd in Venice Film Festival in Wadjda
Ahd, Saudi director and actress, takes part in Venice Film Festival through her film Wadjda withinOrizzonti competition which focuses on new approaches of filmmakers. Wadjda is the first Saudi film shot in Riyadh. The film stars Saudi director and producer Ahd who resides between the US and the Arab world. Ahd's role in Wadjda is her first in a feature film. The film was directed by Haifaa ElMansour as her first freature debut.
Orizzonti competition includes 33 films, short and feature films, which are all characterized by the different new approaches and attitudes followed by their makers.
Wadjda tells the story of an 11 year old girl who dreams of owning a bicycle although it is forbidden for girls to ride bicycles. She participates in a number of school competitions and stars selling 'illicit products' in the school yard to earn the money to buy the bicycle. Ahd plays Miss Hussa who is a strict disciplinarian.
Regarding her role in the movie Ahd says "I played Miss Hussa a strict school principal who's trying to redeem her past mistakes by controlling the girls in school. The role was the first of it's kind for me; in past roles I usually played the submissive women who's pushed to rebellion. In this case I was playing the antagonist, a women who's powerful and manipulating, the challenge was to maintain that but still find the humanity behind it. Overall it was a great experience working on Wadjda and being a part of the first feature film in Saudi".
Ahd is the first Saudi woman to study film direction and production. She has long experience in this field gained through working in Hollywood's studios including the well-known film, The Kingdom and the opportunity of joining the co-starring in the Kurdish film Razn for which she was given the Golden Gate Award as the best actor from San Francisco Film Festival, the film also participated in Rotterdam Film Festival.
Moreover, Ahd presented herself as a director in her first short film The Shoemaker starring Egyptian actor Amr Waked which garnered a number of awards from Arab and international film festivals including Gulf Film Festival and Beirut Film Festivals as well as participating in InternationalShort Film Festival- Clermont Ferrand. Ahd is currently moving between the United States and the Arab world and hopes to make films about her country of origin and specifically her city, Jeddah through her company ODD Camel Films, founded in 2007 to build bridges of communication between US cinema and the film industry in the Arab world.
In addition, Ahd was a jury member in TROPFEST Arabia Film Festival in its first round which was held in Abu Dhabi in November. The festival focuses on short films that do not exceed a length of 7 minutes.
The film is Saudi-German joint production. The film was produced by Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paulfrom Razor of Global Entertainment Productions GmbH in Berlin, Germany. Rena Ronson of UTA Independent Film Group also took part in providing funds for this film project in collaboration withRazor. The film was supported by Rotana Studios. A variety of German filmmaker helped executing the film, the most prominent among them DOP Lutz Reitemeier who won Silver Bear - Outstanding Artistic Achievement from Berlin Film Festival 2012 for his film White Deer Plain directed by the Chinese filmmaker Wang Quan'an.