The Poetess

  • Stefanie Brockhaus, Andy Wolff
  • Germany
  • 2017
  • 90 min
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"My poetry destroys and destroys seriously," says the burka-clad Saudi Arabian poetess Hissa Hilal on Abu Dhabi TV’s immensely popular Million’s Poet, the Arabic-language equivalent of Idols. With her daring and confrontational poems, she became the first female finalist of a show that attracts 70 million viewers per episode. With her critical poem about fatwas, she managed to break the taboo of discussing religious rules—and she made world headlines in the process. By following Hilal during different episodes of the show, we get to know this brave and 
"faceless poetess." She goes shopping with her teenage daughters in their hometown of Riyad and talks about family and the poetic tradition of the Bedouins. Supported by archive footage, she explains the history of her country, and how the liberalization of the 1960s disappeared after the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque by insurgents. We also learn that the veiling of one’s face had socio-cultural origins before it was appropriated and enforced by political Islam—which is now losing terrain because of women like Hilal.

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Credits

  • 90 min
  • color
  • DCP
Director
Stefanie Brockhaus, Andy Wolff
Production
Andy Wolff for Brockhaus / Wolff
Co-production
HFF Munchen
Cinematography
Tobias Tempel, Stefanie Brockhaus
Editing
Anja Pohl, Hansjoerg Weissbrich
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