Scales is the spellbinding debut feature by Saudi Arabian writer/director Shahad Ameen. The film's premiere took place at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival in their Critics’ Week sidebar, where it won the Verona Film Club Award. The film then toured notable festivals around the world, including London, Carthage, Cairo, Singapore and was in the lineup of SXSW 2020.
Ameen's debut is a follow up, and loosely based on her short Eye & Mermaid which was a festival favourite in the Middle East. Her visually stunning style of filmmaking, along with her courage in highlighting social issues that may feel uncomfortable but need to be addressed 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®.
The film 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.
Scales, which is presented in the US by Variance Films will open in theaters on July 9 at IFC Center in New York and Laemmle's Royal in Los Angeles with a rollout to follow.