“Stranger in her City” gets more attention [Archives:2005/895/Culture]

November 17 2005

Yemeni film directress Khadeeja al-Salami was awarded the first prize in a Beirut international film festival. Her “Stranger in her City” was featured at Beirut's DocuDays film festival at the Medina Theater last week. The arbitration board, which included a group of international actors and film directors, praised the high level of professionalism put into the making of the documentary.

The organizers of the festival decided to screen the Yemeni film on the opening session of the festival due to its significance. A discussion group was held as well, comprising world celebrities to discuss the film.

“A Stranger in her City” broaches the issue of women's rights in the Arab world. The heroine, Najmia, is a 13-year-old Yemeni girl who dares to walk through the magical ancient town of Sana'a refusing to wear the traditional abaya and showing her bare curls in the sunlight. She rejects all negative customs and conventions that might hobble her natural life and daily activity as a girl. She doesn't succumb to society's dictations that deny her the right to play and enjoy herself as other children.

The camera follows her and records her acts in a spontaneous manner as she plays with her mates and wards off the criticism of adolescents and adults in a logical and defiant way.

The film is a challenge to centuries of ancestral patriarchal tradition that she gets away with.

It is noteworthy that the same film snatched a prize at a film festival in the Netherlands and drew much attention in Geneva Human Rights Film Festival.

Khadeeja al-Salami, who serves also as the director of the Paris-based Yemen Media Center, has been selected to participate in a Washington film festival in mid-December, 2005, which is to be devoted this year to social life in the Middle East.

Khadeeja al-Salami told media that her film will be featured in the one-week festival and will embody complete model of life in Yemen and the status of Yemen therein. Before that she is to participate in another festival in Montreal, Canada at the end of November.

Khadeeja al-Salami is considered to be the only Yemeni film director who dared the world of film industry. She has taken part in many international festivals and received several awards.