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Haifaa Al-Mansour: “Feminism is a matter of both women and men”



She was the first woman to direct a film in Saudi Arabia. Now, after going through Hollywood, she is also the first to direct a second. ‘The perfect candidate’ demands a calm but urgent revolution

Haifaa Al-Mansour in the Golem cinemas in Madrid.

The green bicycle, the first movie of Haifaa Al-Mansour (Saudi Arabia, 1974)It was the story of a girl who wanted to ride a bicycle. In a green So easy. And from there, from the most obvious simplicity, the director managed to build a phbula that was both manifest, poem and, in its own way, revolution. Without exaggeration, that s. The tape was secretly shot and it was for the double reason of being set in a country without cinemas and in a country without women. Or without women with voice. There is an explicit prohibition, he says, and that made everything more exciting and, at the same time, sadder. Now, eight years later, and with two films signed in the United States (Mary Shelley Y Disheveled), premieres The perfect candidate, the movie with which he returns to his land, but no longer vetoes. Or without all of them. The cinema is no longer prohibited, but much of everything else is. The most important thing right now, says the director, It is legitimacy. Going down the street with my team and being able to roll without the police interrupting anything is a pleasure that is hard to explain. Losing fear is incredible.

The new job speaks again of women. The story is told of a doctor who by accident, by pundonor and because s starts a political crusade in favor of herself in particular and the woman in general. Again, do not panic, it is a story as simple as effective, as charming as free of edges. Let’s say that the vision that the film offers of the Saudi regime is more than critical, central. That is, cida, but without stinging.

I am a feminist, he says to explain the tone, but I have nothing against men. I have had to break many glass ceilings and I have had to fight a lot to get where I am and I don’t want any woman or man to have to go where I’ve been. I think feminism is a matter of both women and men. Pause. A new meaning for masculinity that has to do with trust, love and support for women is necessary.

For Haifaa Al-Mansour the important thing is to express yourself and find the site as a woman beyond and against even the role assigned by tradition or culture. And in this idea he becomes strong. He insists that he has not wanted to make a film against anyone, but in favor of the possibility of understanding and progress. A revolution is needed, but smooth. And that’s why my movie is thought from humor, he concludes.

And how do you get all that in one of the most obvious tyrannies in the world? Things are changing. Yes, it is true that Islam has one of its most conservative versions in my country. In fact, religion is almost a conspiracy against women, against their mobility, against the natural way of behaving … But everything is changing little by little. Many things have to be reexamined and the woman herself has to be part of that debate. The veil, for example, is a way to victimize us. You have to accept the female body with due respect, he says, it takes a second and ends: I am not against religion since it fulfills a function, but it has to be something personal, You cannot politicize or be part of the policy. It is clear.

And what do you think of the fees? I agree with them, but at the beginning, to match a situation that has historically separated women. It cannot be that to achieve something you have to always be perfect. That does not happen to men. But when equality is reached, competition has to exist. And oh, so simple and clear again, leave it.

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