National Geographic Documentary Films has announced that is has secured the feature documentary Saudi Runawa.
Following the success of the film banner’s second consecutive Oscar nomination for The Cave, which focuses on the first female leader of a Syrian hospital, Saudi Runaway is a story from a Swiss-German female director, Susanne Regina Meures, and is about a brave young woman who daringly takes her fate into her own hands at great personal risk.
Hailed as “a profile in courage, more suspenseful than many Hollywood thrillers” by The Hollywood Reporter, Saudi Runaway follows Muna, a young woman in Saudi Arabia reckoning with her upcoming arranged marriage and a life controlled by her domineering father.
When Muna hatches a plan to escape, she uses her cell phone to secretly document her claustrophobic existence and her flight to freedom. Working in close collaboration with director Susanne Meures (whom she spoke with multiple times a day for months), the result is a never-before-seen view inside Saudi Arabia’s patriarchal culture and the riveting story of one woman who risks everything to break free. Though a logistical and technical challenge to direct from afar, a rare cinematic narrative was crafted under Meures’ guidance.
“Muna is one of the strongest-willed and most courageous women I know,” said director Susanne Meures. “Unprecedented, as a Saudi woman, Muna dares to speak up. She shares her pain and offers us a glimpse into a hidden world. Although the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is at the centre of world affairs, very few authentic images of life there exist. Muna’s story is of great urgency and relevance and essentially summarises a human rights drama at its core.”
Meures gained attention with her debut film, Raving Iran (2016), which was shown at over 130 film festivals worldwide, won numerous awards and went on to be a success in cinemas. Saudi Runaway is her second feature-length documentary. Meures also serves as screenwriter and Co-Producer on the project, with Christian Frei (Christian Frei Film Productions GmbH) producing and serving as an editor of the film.
The deal was negotiated by Stefan Kloos for Rise and Shine World Sales and Jason Ishikawa for Cinetic on behalf of the filmmakers.
National Geographic Documentary Films previously released the Oscar, BAFTA and seven-time Emmy Award winner Free Solo, the Sundance Audience Award-winning doc Science Fair; and Jane, all of which are available on Disney+. It’s currently unknown is Saudi Runaway will be released on Disney+, or because of the subject matter if it will be available on Hulu instead.