Haifaa Al Mansour

Writer/Director, Wadjda
Nominated for: Best First Feature

HAIFAA AL MANSOUR is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom. She finished her bachelor’s degree in Literature at the American University in Cairo and completed a Master’s degree in Directing and Film Studies from the University of Sydney.

The success of her three short films, as well as the international acclaim of her award-winning 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows, influenced a whole new wave of Saudi filmmakers and made the issue of opening cinemas in the Kingdom a front-page discussion. Within the Kingdom her work is both praised and vilified for encouraging discussion on topics generally considered taboo, like tolerance, the dangers of orthodoxy, and the need for Saudis to take a critical look at their traditional and restrictive culture.

Through both her films and her work in television and print media, Al Mansour is famous for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the sequestered lives of Saudi women and providing a platform for their unheard voices.