Hearing the loud laughter of the audience, you wouldn’t imagine that a Saudi production is screening. But believe it or not, Mahmoud Sabbagh, an independent Saudi filmmaker, has produced a Romantic- Comedy Film called “Barakah Yukabil Barakah” that sold-out theaters. The film, which is a genuine representation of the Saudi society, has been received well by local and international audiences and is now the second Saudi film ever to be submitted to the Oscars for consideration.
The film stars Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi, both from Saudi Arabia. It follows the love story of Barakah and Bibi in the conservative Saudi society. Barakah works as a civil servant while Bibi is the adopted daughter of a rich couple and is widely recognized for her stylish blog. Together Barakah and Bibi try to overcome not only their class and social differences but also the restrictive traditions of their society.
Earlier this year -Feb, 21st to be exact- “Barakah Yuqabil Baraka” premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival-Berlinale-, one of the world’s leading film festivals. And from the beginning, the film got the people’s attention as they gathered to see the promised Saudi production- not expecting that laughter would prevail. Sabbagh ended up winning the prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 66th Berlinale of 2016.
After it kicked off at the Berlinale, the film continued receiving positive reviews locally as well as internationally, until it was impossible to overlook it. This meant that entering the 2017 academy awards for consideration was certain. The film was submitted for best foreign language film, and its supporters have high hopes of winning. Commenting on the submission Sabbag told Stepfeed
“My biggest prize is actually to make a good, genuine film from Saudi. A film that people watch, relate to it, and can be part of the change. Going to the Oscars is a great marketing and publicity step. If we be able to represent the country later in the shortlist, it would be amazing. If not, we are still very happy!”
“Barakah Yuqabil Barakah” or (Barakah meets Barakah) speaks to the Saudi youth and depicts very serious matters in a very light and humorous manner. The film aims at reflecting normal day-to-day life in Saudi Arabia and is definitely a hit. Thanks to independent filmmakers like Mahmoud Sabbagh, the film industry that was publicly banned in Saudi Arabia is now revived.
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