Courtesy of Variance FIlms

Variance Films is proud to present SCALES, the spellbinding debut feature by Saudi Arabian writer/director Shahad Ameen. To celebrate its upcoming release, Variance Films have unveiled the official poster and trailer, which you can check out below!

SCALES is a visually stunning feminist parable set in a dystopian landscape. It follows the story of a strong-willed young girl, Hayat (Basima Hajjar), whose poor fishing village is governed by a dark tradition: every family must give one daughter to the mermaid-like sea creatures who inhabit the waters, to ensure the village can continue their fishing expeditions. When Hayat’s father refuses, the girl becomes a pariah, considered a curse by the village and urged to sacrifice herself – but Hayat has her own plans for her destiny.

The film’s premiere took place at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, where it won the Verona Film Club Award, before touring notable festivals around the world, including London, Carthage, Cairo, Singapore and at SXSW 2020. Ameen’s debut is a welcome addition to Saudi cinema’s ongoing, female-led cinematic renaissance.

The visually arresting film was selected as Saudi Arabia’s Official Oscar® entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Academy Awards, marking Saudi Arabia’s fourth ever submission in the history of the Oscars®.

Writer-director Shahad Ameen was born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Video Production and Film Studies from the University of West London, and also holds a degree in Screenwriting.

Her short films include Our Own Musical (2009) and  Leila’s Window (2011), which showed at the Gulf Film Festival and was named Best Film at the Saudi Film Festival. Her short film Eye & Mermaid (2013) premiered at Dubai International Film Festival 2013 and was selected for competition at Toronto International Film Festival 2014, Stockholm Film Festival 2014 and Kortfilmfestivalen 2014 in Norway. Eye & Mermaid was awarded First Prize in the Emirates Film Competition and Best Cinematography at the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival 2014 and was the winner of the Best Fiction, International Competition at the NDU International Film Festival 2014.

Ameen’s debut feature, SCALES, premiered at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, where it won the Verona Film Club Award.

 SCALES will open in theaters on July 9th at IFC Center in New York and Laemmle’s Royal in Los Angeles with rollout to follow.

Sarah Musnicky
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