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The story of a fishing village in thrall to mysterious sea creatures makes for a spellbinding feature debut from Shahad Ameen.

A number of access tickets have been ring-fenced for the BSL screening on Wednesday 9 October.

Dir-Scr Shahad Ameen
Prod R Paul Miller, Stephen Strachan, Rula Nasser
With Ashraf Barhoum, Basima Hajjar, Yagoub AlFarhan
Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates-Iraq
Prod Co Image Nation Abu Dhabi
With English subtitles

Likely to become known as the Saudi mermaid movie, Scales achieves far more than this description whilst laying claim to being the most unlikely drama you’ll see this year. Shahad Ameen’s directorial debut is a visually resplendent tale set in a small Gulf fishing village. Its population live in thrall to the otherworldly creatures they believe reside in the sea. So much so that to keep them pacified, the village has traditionally sacrificed its female children to the creatures. But the drama really begins when one of those girls, Hayat (which means ‘life’ in Arabic), rejects her fate and fights against the patriarchal hegemony. It is a measure of the film’s quality that what follows both stands on its own merits as a fantastic tale, while also allowing for bountiful metaphorical interpretations on the standing of women in Arab society.

Ali Jaafar

Festival guests

These members of the filmmaking team are expected to attend the festival:

  • Shahad Ameen, director; R. Paul Miller, producer; Stephen Strachan, producer.

See the full list of visiting festival guests. Please note that we can't guarantee guest attendance at any particular screening.

Additional information

The screening on Wednesday 9 October is an accessible BSL screening for customers who are D/deaf or hard or hearing. The introduction and Q&A will be BSL interpreted.

Special £5 tickets for 25 & Under are bookable in advance at bfi.org.uk/lff/25-and-under.

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