Tunisian filmmaker and artist Nacer Khemir is gearing up to direct a docudrama about Andalucian princess Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, thought to be the first woman in Europe to set up a literary salon.
The daughter of one of the last Umayyad caliphs, Wallada was an accomplished poet and intellectual who shocked 11th century Cordoba by refusing to wear a veil.
“I’ve interviewed scholars who say she was the first European woman to have this idea of bringing together writers, musicians and philosophers in a salon,” said Khemir, who is attending Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) for the world premiere of his latest film Whispering Sands. “I want people to remember this strong and glamorous Arab woman, who lived centuries ago.”
Khemir has already started shooting interviews for the film, Loving Wallada. He is also developing narrative feature The Man Who Lost His Cloud, about a man who decides to call together all the women from his past, but dies before they arrive.
Also an artist, sculptor and costume designer, Khemir is renowned for his desert trilogy, the first of which, Wanderers Of The Desert (1984), screened in Venice Classics this year.
Starring Noura Saladin and Hichem Rostom, Whispering Sands tells the story of a Canadian woman of Arab descent who embarks on a journey in the desert. The film is screening in DIFF’s Muhr Feature competition.