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‘Norah’ Makes History as First Saudi Film Selected for Cannes

The movie, centred around the ban against art in 1990s Saudi Arabia, marks an important milestone in the history of the country.

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‘Norah’ Makes History as First Saudi Film Selected for Cannes

In recent years, Saudi Arabia’s efforts to rekindle the flame in its arts and culture scene have been far from hidden, ever since the 35-year ban on cinema was lifted in 2017. Nationwide efforts have come to fruition in the form of one big milestone: the first-ever selection of a Saudi film for the Cannes Film Festival.

‘Norah’, the film in question, is a drama directed by Tawfik Alzaidi. The story is set in 1990s Saudi Arabia during a time of heightened conservatism when all forms of art and painting were banned for religious reasons. The film follows Norah, an illiterate orphaned young woman facing an arranged marriage in a remote village. Her encounter with an artist named Nader awakens her passion for art and fuels her desire for a better life beyond the village. "Norah" won a funding award from the Saudi Film Commission's Daw Film Competition and is produced by Alzaidi, Paul Miller, and Sharif Majali, in collaboration with Saudi production companies.

‘Norah’ premiered at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah and will launch internationally from the prestigious Un Certain Regard section at Cannes.


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