In 2018, the entire world lived a watershed moment when Saudi Arabia decided to lift its 35-year ban on cinemas, granting movie theaters license across the kingdom. Prior to that moment, Fatima AlBanawi belonged to a generation of burgeoning Saudi talents whose passion for art and cinema conflicted with their attempts to communicate with the international industry markets and their conservative community. Nowadays, AlBanawi's name can be spotted in successful serial dramas on Netlix and Shahid.net, in addition to several Saudi features that have been selected at international festivals and film events.
Her roster of works in 2020 include Paranormal that premiered to a huge success on Netflix. She also co-wrote, co-directed and starred in Shahid’s thriller Saudi series Al-Shak that she has fully shot from home during the coronavirus lockdown.
In 2016, Fatima landed her leading role in Mahmoud Sabbagh’s comedy and daring romance film Barakah Meets Barakah that marks the first Saudi feature film to screen at the Berlinale and was Saudi Arabia's official submission to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language.
In 2017, she also landed a leading role in the Saudi TV Bashar. Then, she starred in Abdulelah Alqurashi’s Roll’em, which marks the first Saudi film to commercially release in local cinemas in March 2019, followed by Shahid's serial thriller Om AlQalayed that premiered in 2020.
Earlier this year, Red Sea International Film Festival selected her feature film project Basma for a joint program held in collaboration with Torino Film Lab to develop films. The festival also funded her short film project Until We See Light as part of the collective project, Becoming, that brings together films by five Saudi women directors in one feature that focuses on the Saudi women’s life.
Fatima received her MA in Social Studies from Harvard University with a focus on representing women and the Arab identity in cinema and literature. Afterwards, she returned to Saudi Arabia and worked on The Other Story Project that gathers 5,000 on-the-go personal stories by anonymous people from Jeddah. Fatima Later conveyed these stories to a performance series and used them in creating her artwork A blink of an Eye, to be selected after that by Time Magazine as part of its Young Generation Leaders list in 2018. Later in 2018, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs called her the Sophie Calle of Saudi Arabia upon the success of her performance Amours Saoudiennes in Paris. She also served as a juror in a number of film festivals and opened her own studio that aims to foster and enrich the actors and film community in Saudi Arabia.
Official Website: fatimaalbanawi.com