National Geographic Documentary Films Acquires Worldwide Rights to Saudi Runaway out of Sundance

From Director Susanne Regina Meures Comes an Unprecedented Look at One Woman’s Life Inside Saudi Arabia and Her Daring Plan to Escape

National Geographic Documentary Films announced today the acquisition of the feature documentary Saudi Runaway ahead of its highly anticipated premiere tonight at the Berlin International Film Festival. Directed by Susanne Regina Meures, the film had its premiere in the World Documentary Competition section at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

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Credit: National Geographic Documentary Films

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 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; Emmy-winning films LA 92 and Jane, both of which were included in the top 15 documentaries considered for an Academy Award in 2017; and Dupont Award-winning documentary Hell on Earth. The company’s latest film, The Cave from director Feras Fayyad, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

About National Geographic Documentary Films

National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between Disney and the National Geographic Society. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 132 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com.

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Contacts

Tiffany Malloy
Tiffany.Malloy@natgeo.com
201-925-1122