Part of SFFILM Festival
Muna is a young woman in Saudi Arabia who is unable to live the life that she desperately wants. Restricted by laws and religious practices that prohibit women from doing anything alone – including leaving home to visit the store – Muna decides that she would rather dangerously chance fleeing her country and family to seek asylum elsewhere. Filmed entirely in secret by Muna on two cell phones, Saudi Runaway is an intimately personal thriller that follows the heartbreaking decisions and necessary steps to leave a life behind in hope for a better one.
“Throughout the film, Muna reflects this turmoil quietly on her face – in silent tears, a blank tilt of a head as if taking a makeup selfie, a hard stare as she peers beneath her covering in the mirror. Muna’s gift, according to Meures, is that she’s ‘able to take us into her world, but you never have the feeling of her acting.’ She has a rare skill for crying and filming herself at the same time; under emotional pressure, her hand is steady. ‘She was just so incredibly courageous – that was something that surprised me every single day again,’ said Meures. ‘She has an amazing mix of stubbornness and courage and the bravery of standing up and actually doing something.'” – Adrian Horton, The Guardian
German filmmaker Susanne Regina Meures previously made Raving Iran (2016). Saudi Runaway is her second feature.
“Challenges often lead to the best ideas. I applied for a visa in Saudi Arabia twice, and it got declined twice. So, I had to find another way to get into the country without being there physically. In April 2019, I got in touch with a Saudi activist in Europe who also runs a blog and a closed chat group supporting women who are trying to leave the Kingdom. I placed a post in the chat group, looking for girls and women who were planning on escaping in the near future. My hope was to find someone who would be willing to document their everyday life and their planned escape with their mobile phones — someone who would be able to give us personal insight into a hidden world.” –Susanne Regina Meures, Women and Hollywood