Haifaa al-Mansour, award-winning Saudi Arabian director and screenwriter, 2015 Annual Conference Auditorium Speaker

For Immediate Release
Fri, 02/13/2015


Amy McGuigan

Conference Manager

Conference Services

American Libraary Association


CHICAGO — Award-winning Saudi Arabian film director and screenwriter Haifaa al-Mansour—outspoken, smart, and media-savvy—adds ALA to a long list of high-profile appearances, including being interviewed by Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” and Dave Eggers for McSweeney’s journal “Wholphin.” Al-Mansour joins the 2015 Annual Conference Auditorium Speaker series from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 27.

Winner of an EDA Female Focus Award, al-Mansour’s first feature-length film “Wadjda” also won the Best International Feature Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, among other awards, and is the first feature-length movie filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia, the first feature filmed by a female Saudi Arabian director and the first Saudi Arabian film submitted for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

The film is the basis of al-Mansour’s middle-grade (and debut) novel, "Wadjda," about a spunky and sly 11-year-old living in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, with her mother and father, who constantly pushes the boundaries of what's considered proper—going out without a headscarf, wearing Converse sneakers to school and speaking with boys in public places. The story of her attempt to get a bicycle, considered improper for girls to ride, unfolds against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East and explores gender roles, conformity and the importance of family with warmth, spirit and humor.

The daughter of a poet, al-Mansour studied comparative literature in Cairo and later attended film school in Australia. Her 2005 documentary “Women Without Shadows” speaks to the hidden lives of women in Arab States of the Persian Gulf and was shown at 17 international festivals, received the Golden Dagger for Best Documentary in the Muscat Film Festival and got a special jury mention in the fourth Arab Film Festival in Rotterdam. Her next film, “A Storm in the Stars,” about Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and starring Elle Fanning, is set to release in 2016.

Al-Mansour’s appearance at ALA Annual Conference is sponsored by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers.

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