The Poetess tells the story of Saudi poetess, Hissa Hilal, who made headlines around the world in 2010, as the first woman to ever make it to the finals of “Million’s Poet”, an Abu-Dhabi based Million Dollar reality television show. It is the Arab world’s biggest poetry competition, and it is dominated by men. In her poems Hissa criticizes the patriarchal Arab society and she attacks one of the most notorious Saudi clerics for his extremist fatwas, live, in front of 75 million viewers. Hissa Hilal is the voice from behind the veil: Her word is her weapon. We’ll never see Hissa’s face. Like the majority of Saudi women, Hissa is covered from head to toe. She is not allowed to drive a car. She doesn’t own a passport. And she requires consent from her husband for any sort of activity. But then, coming out of nowhere, Hissa is suddenly breaking news in the biggest Western and Arab media. How did she gain the knowledge and the courage to step on stage and risk her life?
For more on the film, click here.
The film was followed by a panel discussion with:
- Tiina Astola, Director General, DG Justice and Consumers, European Commission
- Dagmar Schumacher, Director, UN Women Liason Office in Brussels
- Sietske Steneker, Director General, UNFPA Brussels Office
- Dr Malika Hamidi, Director General of the European Muslim Network
- Moderated by Deborah Seward, UNRIC