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The Perfect Candidate
Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour • 2019 • Saudi Arabia
Starring Mila Al Zahrani, Khalid Abdulraheem, Nora Al Awad
The latest from trailblazing Saudi Arabian director Haifaa al-Mansour (WADJDA) is a courageous critique of patriarchal oppression in her home country and a vivid portrait of a singularly determined woman. When Maryam (Mila Al Zahrani), a hardworking young doctor in a small-town clinic, is prevented from flying to Dubai for a conference without a male guardian’s approval, she seeks help from a politically connected cousin but inadvertently registers as a candidate for the municipal council. Seeing the election as a way to fix the flooded road in front of her clinic, Maryam becomes her town’s first female candidate and, with the help of her sisters—and a viral campaign video—takes on her community’s ingrained sexism.