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SCALES, the first feature film from Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen, is about Hayat, played with quiet intensity by Basima Hajjar, who is rescued as an infant by her father from her desolate island’s traditional sacrifice of daughters. As a result, her father is mocked, and she grows up an outcast, in a place where the men of her village hunt mermaids for food because it’s the only resource left.
The brush with sacrifice, though, has left more than a psychological mark on Hayat, with ramifications for her small village’s traditional gender roles and its very future.
We started our conversation with the advantages of using fantasy to tell a story; mermaids as metaphor; and learning that choices are an option.
We finished up with Ameen describing how she decide to make her film in black and white, and why the sound design was integral.
The film co-stars Yagoub Alfarhan as Hayat’s father, and Ashraf Barhom as Amer, the fisherman who does and doesn’t come to terms with Hayat’s challenge to societal norms. Ameen’s previous work includes the short film, EYE & MERMAID