Netflix has boarded upcoming Saudi drama Basma, the feature directorial debut of Saudi actress and filmmaker Fatima AlBanawi, and will exclusively premiere the film on the streaming platform in 2024.
AlBanawi also wrote the script and stars as the title character, a young Saudi woman who returns back to her hometown after studying in the US, only to discover that her family have been hiding her father’s mental illness and broken relationships. A first look at the film can be seen above.
Filmed in Jeddah, it was among the first projects to receive support from the Red Sea Film Foundation. It is produced by Egypt’s Mohamed Hafzy of Film Clinic and AlBanawi’s Alf Wad. The film’s associate producer is Daniel Ziskind, Film Clinic’s Paris-based representative in Europe.
“There are seven billion versions of normal on this planet; I hope I managed to deliver one of them,” she said of making Basma.
AlBanawi first came to international attention with her performance in Mahmoud Sabbagh’s groundbreaking comedy Barakah Meets Barakah, which premiered at the Berlinale and was Saudi’s second ever entry to the Academy Awards in 2016. She also stars in Abdulelah Alqurashi’s Alhamour H.A., which is Saudi’s submission to the Oscars this year.
Netflix has been supporting Arab women filmmakers in recent years with grants, mentorships and showcases on the platform. This year, the streaming giant partnered with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) to train 45 emerging female talents from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE in the filmmaking process and the different roles women play behind the camera. Participants will visit Netflix’s production hub in Europe early next year.