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A billionaire princess in Saudi Arabia

A billionaire princess in Saudi Arabia
IT IS time for Sahar to marry but she dreams of a career, not a husband. Her fundamentalist brother wants to pick her mate and is planning her life as a homemaker. In Keif al-Hal ( How's It Going?), a big-budget Arab film due out this winter, family members across the generations find themselves torn between modernity and tradition. The plot may seem mundane but Keif al-Hal is a landmark project with big ambitions. It is the first feature film from Saudi Arabia, a country with not one legal movie theatre. Financed by a Saudi prince, it aims not only to raise delicate questions about social oppression but also to generate a Saudi movie industry and force the opening of theatres, some of which are reportedly under construction without licences or legal status.

Keif al-Hal follows the release of several short films and documentaries by Saudi filmmakers during the past two years that do not shy away from controversial themes. Thalal al-Samt ( The Oppression of Silence), by Abdullah al-Moheissin, is an art house science-fiction film about government oppression, while Cinema 500 km chronicles one man's drive to Bahrain to watch a movie, a statement about Saudi Arabia's narrow personal freedoms.

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