Saudi Arabian Capital Screens First Film In 30 Years, Women Unwelcome


Just a quick congratulations to the people of Riyadh, Saudi Arabi, who last weekend got their first look at a theatrically screened movie in more than three decades. Or rather, the men of Riyadh (and, inexplicably, girls under 10) had a look, which puts kind of a damper on things, but hey. Baby steps! Or something.

The Guardian reports that crowds pushing 300 at a time have been arriving to check out Menahi, a locally produced comedy about a bedouin tribesman adjusting to live in the big city. It's the first time since the '70s -- when mixing of the sexes at the movies spurred revolt among Muslim religious leaders -- that any movie has had an authorized screening in a movie theater. Prior to Friday, Saudis had only the abilities to watch films on TV, rent censored movies on video, or travel to Bahrain for a more liberalized moviegoing experience. Which is like driving to Encino for a documentary's Oscar-qualifying run, and who wants to do that?

A few clerics and hardliners did attempt to disrupt the proceedings, but with women already successfully banned from attending, few viewers were dissuaded. So a mixed "way-to-go" to the people of Riyadh -- keep the cinema dream alive, and just as soon as you're ready for a look at The Hangover, Movieline itself will arrange a screening. Even the ladies will love it! Just let us know.

· Saudis in Riyadh enjoy first taste of filmgoing in three decades [The Guardian]