9 September 2019: Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s newest feature film, Scales, has received the prestigious Verona Film Club Award at the 76th Venice International Film Festival, following its world premiere as part of the Critics’ Week competition.
Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr) is the debut film from Saudi Arabian writer and director Shahad Ameen, and explores the changing role of women in society through visceral storytelling. Set in a remote fishing village, it follows a young girl named Hayat who defies the local tradition of sacrificing women to creatures in the sea and decides to create her own path.
The Verona Film Club Award is presented to the most innovative film in the Critics’ Week lineup. The committee, made up of jurors under 30, commented that Scales was selected for the award “For having driven us along the horizon of a sea crossed by the traces of an archaic and profound myth, which captures bodies and gazes, bringing to the surface a lucid and ferocious vision of contemporary times. For having outlined the forms of a social complexity through a sample of ancestral sounds, black and white conflicts and spatial contrapositions.”
“Winning this award is a very special moment for me and everyone who worked on this film. It reflects the power of this story and the exceptional work of the cast and crew who brought my vision to life, as well as Image Nation’s invaluable support throughout the creative and production process,” said Shahad Ameen. “This is not just a win for me – with two female Saudi directors in Venice this year, I feel that it’s also a significant step forward for the regional film industry.”
“We are very proud that Shahad’s fascinating film is seeing the celebration that it deserves at Venice,” said Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer, Image Nation. “This success is more evidence that the region’s film industry is moving from strength to strength, and Image Nation is proud to play its part in this development by supporting emerging and established regional talents to create and experiment across different genres.”
Scales was produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the award-winning film and entertainment company which has built its reputation on breaking boundaries and unleashing imagination.
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, with executive producers Mohamed Al-Daradji and Majid Al-Ansari.
About Shahad Ameen
Writer-director Shahad Ameen was born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Video Production and Film Studies from the University of West London, and also holds a degree in Screenwriting. Her short films include Our Own Musical and Leila’s Window (2011), which showed at the Gulf Film Festival and was named Best Film at the Saudi Film Festival.
Her short film Eye & Mermaid (2013) premiered at Dubai International Film Festival 2013 and was selected for competition at Toronto International Film Festival 2014, Stockholm Film Festival 2014 and Kortfilmfestivalen 2014 in Norway. Eye & Mermaid was awarded First Prize in the Emirates Film Competition and Best Cinematography at the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival 2014 and was the winner of the Best Fiction, International Competition at the NDU International Film Festival 2014. Scales was picked as a finalist for the prestigious IWC award at the Dubai International Film Festival 2015. Scales is Shahad’s debut feature film.
- ‘Our Own Musical’ (2009)
- ‘Leila’s Window’ (2011)
- ‘Eye & Mermaid’ (2013)
- ‘Scales’ (2019)
About Image Nation Abu Dhabi
Image Nation Abu Dhabi is an award-winning film and entertainment company which has built its reputation on breaking boundaries and unleashing imagination. It creates films, TV series, documentaries and entertainment for consumers throughout the world and is the first UAE company to have multiple productions stream globally on Netflix. Its success spans the globe – screening content at over 400 international film festivals and receiving the industry’s highest honors, including two Academy Awards, a BAFTA and an Emmy.
Image Nation has a strong track record of producing high-quality productions through a combination of local talent and international expertise. The company encourages original thought and curiosity while providing a platform for inspiration and practical training through its robust development program, Arab Film Studio.
Its mission is to help build the film and entertainment industry across the GCC and MENA – a pioneering ambition in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision to shape a competitive, sustainable and globally open economy. Image Nation enables all those who engage with it to become guardians of culture and ambassadors of change.