Directed by Stefanie Brockhaus and Andreas Wolff (Germany/UAE, 2017, 89 min.). Digital. Arabic and English with English subtitles.
Saudi poetess Hissa Hilal is a self-taught writer, and she says what she thinks. Her weapon is her word. She decides to take part in Million’s Poet, an Abu Dhabi-based TV show. It is the Arab world’s biggest poetry competition, and it is dominated by men. Nonetheless, Hissa dispatches the competition, becoming the first woman in the finals. In her poems, she criticizes the patriarchal Arab society and attacks one of the most notorious Saudi clerics for his extremist fatwas, live, in front of 75 million viewers. We’ll never see Hissa’s face. Like the majority of Saudi women, Hissa is covered from head to toe. She doesn’t own a passport. And she requires consent from her husband for any sort of activity. Yet, the fearless housewife is suddenly the subject of breaking news in the biggest Western and Arab media. How did she gain the knowledge and the courage to step on stage and risk her life?