Saudi Arabia: a Wind of Change
Sylvain Lepetit / Miyuki Droz Aramaki
Saudi Arabia has one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Women in particular have hardly any rights. There is a strictly enforced segregation between the sexes; there are no entertainment venues and music is taboo. Yet these past years, albeit on a small scale, some progress has been made in the area of newly acquired liberties.
Two French filmmakers travel to the closed kingdom in order to gain more insight into the everyday lives of women in Saudi Arabia. From a Western point of view, this life seems claustrophobic, to say the least. All Saudi women have a guardian who makes decisions for them and determines what is allowed and what is not. This person could be a husband, a father, brother, or even their own son once he reaches the age of twelve. Women are not allowed to vote, drive a car or undertake hardly anything unless granted permission by a man. Even public spaces are strictly segregated: shopping malls have separate stores for men and women, and restaurants also provide separate spaces.
The filmmakers talk with Saudi women who apparently do not object to living this way. But they also visit revolutionary Saudis, such as a popular talk show host who has thrown her niqab to the winds and presents a highly successful TV programme from abroad dressed in a mini-skirt. We see a brave mother with a love of basketball, who has managed to establish the first and only girls’ sports school. And we meet a fashion designer who, despite all the prohibitions, designs provocative cocktail dresses for Saudi women.
France, Saudi Arabia 2015, 52 min.
Spoken language: English
Official website: http://www.edithparis.com/program/saudi-arabia-the-womanless-kingdom