Dunya’s Day

There are a few interesting things about this short film by director Raed Alsemari. First, is that it is the first Saudi short film to ever be under consideration for an Oscar nomination. Second, is the stance it takes on status and the role it plays in Saudi society. Finally, a rather discreet stance on killing animals to eat them or veganism, which is apparently on the upswing in Saudi Arabia.

Chaos ensues when Dunya’s (Sara Balghonaim) household staff walk out on her. Once we learn a little bit about Dunya’s personality we totally understand why. All this on the cusp of her hosting a perfectly planned graduation party. These parties hosted by affluent families carry a lot of pressure. Everything is done a certain way and to a high standard. If not, it will be a source of shame for the family. The heat is on!

Dunya gets a couple of her friends to help her with the preparations. This includes preparing the food and even killing a goat. All the effort, in the end, is for naught as the first invitees who arrive, including the standard bearer Anoud, mock Dunya as she is doing the serving herself. An embarrassed Dunya hears their laughter as she flees.

Dunya is a woman who places a high value upon what people, especially her rich friends, think of her. Here instead of mocking or holding this type of character up to laugh at (exclusively) we see the insecurities and humanity all wrapped up with the ego. It is set up farce style allowing us to laugh at the situation and Dunya’s desire for status. We are to laugh, but at the same time see that there is a little bit of ourselves in the main character.

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