Saudi 'feminist' film 'Scales' wins Best Picture award at Singapore International Film Festival

Director Shahad Ameen said in her acceptance speech that the film took her six years to make, to ensure it was 'as feminist as I wanted'

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Abu Dhabi-made fantasy film Sayidat Al Bahr (or Scales in English) has been named the best film in the Asian feature competition at the 2019 Singapore International Film Festival.

The accolade caps off a golden run for the film, helmed by Saudi Arabian director Shahad Ameen, which debuted at the Venice Film Festival in August. It is Ameen's first feature film, and was produced by Abu Dhabi's Image Nation.

Ameen scooped up the Silver Screen Award at the festival's blue carpet event on Saturday, at a ceremony held in the National Museum of Singapore.

During her acceptance speech, Ameen revealed "it took me six years to make this film, the way I wanted, as feminist as I wanted", according to Variety.

Scales tells the story of Hayat, a young girl living in a village with a tradition of sacrificing female children to mysterious creatures in the sea. When her time to be sacrificed comes, she rejects this dystopian reality and decides to forge her own path.

When The National spoke to Ameen shortly before the film was due to premiere in Venice, she was excited about the milestone for Arab cinema: "It's very special. I'm happy for everyone who worked on the film. Everyone really believed in it, and that this film needs to be told and it's a story that needs to be heard. It's a great step forward."

Image Nation chairman Mohamed Al Mubarak has also previously spoken about his unabashed belief in the film, telling The National in July: "This is a strong story, this is a story of empowerment, this is a cultural story, an artistic story, and when you put all that together we felt a movie like this hasn't been made in this part of the world.

"It was also linked with a young Saudi director; it’s her first fully fledged feature. Yes, we knew it was going to be a lot of work but it’s a very different type of movie.”