The Perfect Candidate
Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Saudia Arabia/Germany, 2019, 104m
In English and Arabic with English Subtitles
The first Saudi woman to direct a feature film, Haifaa Al-Mansour broke new ground with Wadjda in 2012. Now she returns to her roots with the spirited The Perfect Candidate, an amusing and biting reflection on women in Saudi society that was the country’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards®. Maryam is an ambitious young doctor working in a small-town clinic in Saudi Arabia. Despite her qualifications, she has to earn the respect of male colleagues and acceptance from her patients every day. After Maryam is prevented from traveling to Dubai in search of a better job, a bureaucratic mix-up leads her to stumble on the application for her local city elections, and she decides to run. With her musician father away on tour playing the first public concerts allowed in the Kingdom in decades, Maryam enlists her two younger sisters to begin fundraising and planning campaign events. While they face the restriction of women’s traditional roles at every turn, Maryam’s audacious candidacy starts to build momentum and challenges her conservative community.