EXCLUSIVE: Haifaa Al Mansour made history with Wadjda, the first feature by a Saudi Arabian woman and the first to be shot entirely within the Kingdom. For her second feature, the director is in negotiations to helm A Storm In The Stars for Amy Baer’s Gidden Media. The period romantic drama is about the tumultuous love affair between dangerously charismatic poet Percy Shelley and the brilliant and beautiful 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft. The relationship ultimately inspired the latter to write Frankenstein. The script was written by Emma Jensen, and will be produced by Baer. Joannie Burstein and Rebecca Miller are executive producing. Last Vegas producer Baer launched Gidden Media last November. Of A Storm In The Stars, she says, “From the minute I read the script, I was hoping to find a female director who would realize what Emma was trying to say — that Mary Shelley’s story is as much about female empowerment and about a woman ahead of her time, and not just a ‘monster’ origin story.” Baer sees similarities with Wadjda, the story of a young girl who challenges deep-rooted Saudi traditions in a determined quest to buy a bicycle. It’s “remarkably on point thematically — about a young girl chafing against the norms of her society as she tries to be true to herself. I couldn’t be more …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Haifaa Al Mansour Back On Venice Jury; Greece’s Public Broadcaster Returns With New Look; More
Haifaa Al Mansour Tapped As President Of International Jury At Venice Film Festival
Haifaa Al Mansour will return to Venice this year as president of the International Jury for the Luigi De Laurentiis prize for a debut film, the award that’s akin to Cannes’ Camera d’Or. Al Mansour is the first woman to ever direct a film in Saudi Arabia. Her Wadjda, about a young girl’s determination to buy a bicycle, premiered on the Lido last year and went on to play several international festivals. The 70th Venice Film Festival runs August 28-September 7.
Transitional Channel Greek Public Television Hits Airwaves
Greece’s public broadcaster is back on the air, but it’s not the same ERT that was shuttered by the government last month. A transitional channel called Greek Public Television started displaying its logo on Wednesday morning with plans to show films and documentaries until the launch of the official new broadcaster, NERIT. More than 2,600 workers lost their jobs in June when Prime Minister Antonis Samaras shut the broadcaster down as part of the country’s austerity measures. Pulling the plug also caused a political crisis that had threatened the stability of Greece’s government. New legislation for NERIT, which stands for New Greek Radio, Internet and Television, will be debated in Parliament through tomorrow, according to Greek daily Ekathimerini
Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda is the first-ever feature shot entirely inside the Kingdom – and notably the first Saudi film made by a female director. It debuted in Venice last year where Al Mansour said she was sometimes relegated to directing by telephone since Saudi law does not allow women and men to be seen together outside. Following Venice, the movie played the Telluride, Palm Springs, London, Tribeca and LA Film Festivals among others. It tells the story of a young girl who challenges deep-rooted Saudi traditions in a determined quest to buy a bicycle. Sony Pictures Classics acquired the pic last September from Berlin-based producer Razor Films and will release later this year. It debuts in the UK on July 19 via Soda Pictures.