Hilarious rom-com from Saudi Arabia about neighbourhood watch member Barakah, who falls for the wiles of progressive, gorgeous Bibi. But how should they date in a society where men and women are not allowed to meet casually and where physical contact is strictly forbidden?
Genial Barakah, a mild-mannered man, is a neighbourhood watch member in the Saudi city of Jeddah. He is responsible for ensuring that the rules are obeyed and takes a gentle, peaceful approach to his work. When he checks out an illegal photo shoot on the street, he meets the beautiful Bibi. The adopted daughter of rich parents, she has her own vlog which she uses to promote her mother's luxury clothing boutique. Bibi is famous and notorious for her social media presence; she posts audacious photos and videos and completely disregards all the rules for women. She goes out on the street without wearing a veil, drives a car, and drinks alcohol. Barakah falls head over heels in love with her and desperately wants to meet her again. But how is he supposed to get to know her in a country where it is forbidden for men and women to meet casually in public?
In his debut film, newcomer Mahmoud Sabbagh sketches a refreshing perspective on how conservative traditions and laws collide with the modern world, dominated by mobile phones and social media. Remarkably, the film managed to get through the strict government checks and became the official Saudi submission for the 2017 Oscars – in spite of, or perhaps because of the humorous opening line of the film: 'The pixelization you will experience during this film is totally normal. It is not a commentary on censorship. We repeat, it is not a commentary on censorship.'
Text: Annika Wubbolt