• Golden Globe Awards

Barakah Meets Barakah (Saudi Arabia)

The cinema industry (if one can use this word) of Saudi Arabia is minuscule. It only produces a couple of feature motion pictures and a few documentaries each year. There are no commercial cinema theaters in the country with the exception of one IMAX theater in Khobar. But many Saudi citizens have access to films via satellite dishes, DVDs and streaming.The 2012 film Wadjda was the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first to cast only Saudi actors – professional and non-professional. Wadjda was the first Saudi film ever submitted for Golden Globe consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category.The second Saudi film submitted for the Golden Globe consideration is this year’s  Barakah Meets Barakah by first time director Mahmoud Sabbagh. It was filmed in the Saudi city of Jeddah in 2015. The world premiere of the picture happened at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival –  the first Saudi feature accepted at that prestigious Festival. It was also an official selection of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2016 London Film Festival.Barakah Meets Barakah is a pretty funny love story which people do not expect from this country. Using humor as an artistic tool, the film gives a rare insight into the country where ancient traditions have to deal with modernity imposing itself by way of smartphones and social-media networks. Barakah (Hisham Fageeh) is a low grade civil servant of poor background. Beautiful Bibi (Fatima Al Banawi) comes from a rich family and is a media-star. Barakah and Bibi meet and feel mutual attraction bordering on love at first sight which contradicts their deep divide in social status. Since unsupervised meetings in public and any even innocent physical contact are forbidden by authorities, Barakah and Bibi have to be very inventive in order to have their first date.