Berlin Adds Sundance Doc 'Saudi Runaway' to Panorama Lineup

Saudi Runaway - Sundance - World DOCU - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Sundance

'Saudi Runaway' from director Susanne Regina Meures uses covertly filmed smartphone footage to document a woman's life in Saudi Arabia and her attempt to flee the country.

The Berlin Film Festival has added the politically charged documentary Saudi Runaway to the official lineup for its Panorama sidebar.

The nonfiction feature, from director Susanne Regina Meures (Raving Iran) documents a young woman's life under the oppressive Saudi Arabian regime. Using her smartphone, the woman secretly films her everyday struggles, including her daring plan to flee the country. Saudi Runaway was produced by Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei (War Photographer).

Saudi Runaway premiered in Sundance, where it received rave reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a profile in courage, more suspenseful than many Hollywood thrillers."

Berlin on Thursday also unveiled its program for Berlinale Talents, which brings together up-and-coming film professionals from around the world. Among the guests at this year's Talents are Oscar-winning actresses Helen Mirren, in Berlin to receive a lifetime achievement Golden Bear and Cate Blanchett, who will be attending Berlin to promote her new TV series, Stateless; Oscar-nominated composer Hildur Guonadottir (Joker); and Brazilian director and Berlin festival jury member, Kleber Mendonca Filho (Aquarius).

The European Film Market, which runs concurrent to the Berlin festival, also unveiled its program, with highlights including an Industry Debate on Saturday, Feb. 22, on "Indie Strategies in the Streaming Age," hosted by The Hollywood Reporter; and a presentation Sunday, Feb. 23, from Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, on how to achieve true gender diversity in the film industry.

Six-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Lion King) will present a keynote Feb. 24 as part of EFM's Virtual Reality summit on how VR is revolutionizing film making.

The 2020 Berlin International Film Festival runs Feb. 20-March 1.