The Poetess

Stefanie Brockhaus, Andreas Wolff

Hissa Hilal, a 43-year-old woman from Saudi Arabia, achieved international fame when she was one of the few women to compete in a televised talent search for Arabic poets. Her poetry is controversial: she criticizes extremist fatwas and is an advocate of women’s rights.

Million’s Poet is a TV show which is broadcast from Abu Dhabi and is extremely popular in the Arabic world. Rather than having the participants sing or dance, as competitors do on many Western TV shows, the point here is the art of poetry. Most of the competitors are men. When Hissa first sees the show on television, she is struck to see that there are so few noteworthy female contestants, so she signs up. To her delight, she is invited to compete, quickly achieving international fame with her critical poems about extremism and unequal treatment of men and women.

Based on talks with Hissa and TV clips from the show, the documentary paints a picture of Saudi society: how public life changed drastically for women over the years due to increasing strictness and increasingly extreme religious rules and regulations.

Credits

Subtitles
EN
Director
Stefanie Brockhaus, Andreas Wolff
Country
Germany
Type
Documentary
Duration
90 minutes
Themes
freedom of speech, association etc., religion, women & gender
Year
2017