Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen is set to turn heads in an international film festival with a production that is an "artistic comment" on patriarchal societies.
Set in a dystopian landscape, the film tells the story of a young girl named Hayat who stands up to her family in a bid to overturn a village tradition. In her town, families sacrifice female children to mysterious creatures inhabiting local waters.
The feature is both directed and written by Ameen, who is known for her short film Eye & Mermaid — which premiered at the Dubai Film Festival in 2013.
It's produced by UAE-based company Image Nation, who called its selection to compete in Venice a "great milestone" for Arab cinema.
Shot entirely in Oman, the arthouse production stars Basima Hajjar, Ashraf Barhom, Yagoub Alfarhan and Fatima Al Taei in lead roles. In a press statement about the film, Ameen opened up about the feature.
"'Scales' tells a visceral story about growing up as a woman in a patriarchal society, offering an allegorical take on a universal theme that will resonate with audiences around the world," she said.
Ben Ross, the Chief content officer at Image Nation, also spoke out on the film's selection to screen in Venice.
"This nuanced, artistic project embraces film's power to address important subjects like freedom and belonging."
He said the film is part of "Image Nation's efforts to expand our slate to encompass more intriguing, specialty films alongside our more commercial projects."
Not the only Arab film to be competing at this year's Venice Film Festival
The Lebanese feature All This Victory is also set to screen and compete at the 76th edition of the Venice International Film Festival.
Directed by Ahmad Ghossein, the drama is set in 2006 — the year the country witnessed a war with Israel. A co-production between Lebanon, France and Germany, the film tells the story of Marwan, a son searching for his father after the latter refused to leave his village during the summer war.
In 2018, the project won the Eastern Promises Works in Progress Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
This year's Venice International Film Festival opens on Aug. 28 and runs until Sept. 7.