This is a bit of an unusual news item appearing in Variety today, but Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, screened its first film in 30 years this past weekend when they showed the Saudi pic, Menahi. The film, a comedy about a Bedouin who has a difficult time adapting to life in Dubai. Now before you think the Saudis have gone all Hollywood on us, keep in mind that women were not allowed at the screening, and there were very minor incidents of protests and discouragement. But no major uprisings occurred and the film played to a packed audience.
Cinemas were shut down in Riyadh around three decades ago because religious conservatives looked – and look – upon film viewing and concerts as opportunities for the mixing of the sexes and thus temptations. The screening was considered a daring move, although promotion for it was light at best. Menahi was produced by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, nephew to King Abdullah.
So, for us Westerners, who slap down $10 to see movies that all too often suck, it’s just a little reminder to keep in mind how lucky we are to do so nonetheless.
No word on when the sequel will be out.