Soula Saad is no stranger to producing successful documentaries, having won The Women’s International Film & Television Showcase award for best documentary in 2010. She is hoping her latest offering will be just as successful. Soula took her documentary “Eleele” to the Film Market at Cannes this year in an attempt to find post-production funds and distribution.

What’s the topic of your film?

The film is about the Middle East’s unheard voice; Women from several subcultures and social backgrounds of contemporary middle-eastern society speak of the challenges they face, the infringements on women rights, and what makes them come alive. This is an aspect of middle-eastern society we hear very little about. The film includes a musical soundscape made up of phenomenal singers and musicians such as Fadia el Hage, Mamak Khadem, Imane Homsy, Ranin Chaar & Shireen Maluf, to name a few.

What drew you to that subject matter?

It happened in three phases. First, it is in my lineage. My great grandfather, Tanios Saad, started the first school for girls in the Middle East and believed that a society evolves and strives through educating & empowering girls. Secondly it was realising that feminine thought differs from masculine thought pattern; it is organic & sensible. So in general, men tend to express their thoughts, while women tend to express how they feel. History has been told by men since the beginning. Last but not least, today, and even more so in our region, it is men ruling and leading the world. With his wars, his invasions, his addiction to power, the masculine doesn’t leave any room for feminine values, tenderness, softness, and kindness. My wish with “Eleele” is for women to bring out another thought pattern that would lead to a change in attitudes in men and women, and restore balance and therefore harmony.
How was the experience of filming your first feature documentary?
A very mixed experience; I felt very enriched by the encounters with amazingly courageous women, who are speaking up to change their social environments for the better. And it’s been depleting for lack of support and funding for cultural projects in the Middle East.

How did you finance it?

When it became clear that no Middle Eastern Channel was interested in investing in women advancement, I decided to fully fund it by making educational documentaries in parallel & fundraising events.

How did you get the opportunity to show at Cannes and what are you hoping to gain from it?

I contacted Fondation Liban Cinéma as I was finishing the editing to request their guidance for who may be an appropriate local producer/distributor to approach. I was entering the post-production phase of the film, and few months later I found out that Cannes Goes Global & Works-In-Progress hold the place of honour this year at the Film Market. Lebanon Goes to Cannes in collaboration with Fondation Liban Cinéma selected “Eleele”/Feminitude to showcase in Cannes. Cannes is a fantastic international networking platform, and at this stage, I am hoping to find finishing funds for post-production, an international sales agent, and ideally distribution.

by Hugo Goodridge