‘Scales’ tilts the critical balance in Saudi director Ameen’s favor

Bags the Verona Film Club Award for most innovative film in Venice Film Festival

Saudi Arabian director Shahad Ameen won the Verona Film Club Award for most innovative film in the Critics’ Week section where her film ‘Scales’ premiered.

Saudi Gazette report

Saudi Arabian director Shahad Ameen won the Verona Film Club Award for most innovative film in the Critics’ Week section where her film ‘Scales’ premiered.

Ameen, carrying the message of women empowerment in the Kingdom here, proved that her unique vision and world outlook not only make for great entertainment but also provided an insight into the future of filmmaking.

Giona A. Nazzaro, the general delegate for Venice Critics’ Week, said about ‘Scales’: “I was aware of the project for a long time. I was also aware of the previous short Ameen had done [Eye & Mermaid].

“Obviously there were great expectations but the film was even stronger and bigger than I expected. It was stronger and bigger in a very interesting way because it’s a film that does not show off.

“It’s a film about the craft itself of filmmaking, it’s about how you reshape the world with the tool of cinema and it’s one of the most interesting and challenging coming of age stories of the last years.”

Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s feature film Scales premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, as part of the prestigious Critics Week competition.

Set in a dystopian landscape, Scales is the story a young girl who embraces her destiny when she stands alone against her family and overturns the village tradition of sacrificing the female children to the mysterious creatures inhabiting the waters nearby.

A rare Arab art house film, Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr) explores the changing role of women in society through the lens of fantasy. Scales is the debut feature film from Saudi Arabian writer and director Shahad Ameen, based on her award-winning short film.

Shot on location in Oman, Scales stars Basima Hajjar as Hayat, alongside Ashraf Barhom (Coriolanus, Clash of the Titans, The Kingdom), Yagoub Alfarhan (Ekhtraq, Bedoon Filter, Love Without Limits) and Fatima Al Taei (star of Image Nation’s courtroom drama Justice).

The film was produced by Paul Miller and Stephen Strachan of Abu Dhabi-based, Film Solutions and Rula Nasser of Imaginarium Films and, with executive producers Mohamed Al-Daradji and Majid Al-Ansari.

“Scales tells a visceral story about growing up as a woman in a patriarchal society, offering an allegorical take on a universal theme that will resonate with audiences around the world,” Shahad Ameen said.

“Relying on simple yet powerful storytelling, it is a very visual experience with minimal dialogue — maintaining a timeless, meditative aspect even in its action scenes. I want to immerse viewers in Hayat’s journey from her own point of view, letting them share in her experience as she finds her true self,” she added.

“This nuanced, artistic project embraces film’s power to address important subjects like freedom and belonging,” said Ben Ross, chief content officer, Image Nation.

“Scales is part of Image Nation’s efforts to expand our slate to encompass more intriguing, specialty films alongside our more commercial projects. We foresee that Scales will be well-received on the festival circuit.

“This is a film that brings profound insights into contemporary culture. We hope that it will bring further recognition of the region’s growing maturity and sophistication.”

The 76th edition of the Venice International Film Festival started from Aug. 28 until Sept. 7. The world’s oldest film festival and one of the most prestigious, Venice is widely seen as a testing ground for future award-winning films.

Following a highly competitive submissions process, Scales was accepted as part of a line up including premieres from world-renowned filmmakers and A-list celebrities.