2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: SAUDI RUNAWAY

SAUDI RUNAWAY | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Susanne Regina Meures shares a Saudi Arabian woman’s first-person attempt to gain freedom by leaving her country.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

Muna is a young, fearless woman in Saudi Arabia who is tired of being controlled by the state and the harsh restrictions she endures as a woman. Her arranged marriage, in which she sees a prolonged life without free will, is imminent, so she decides she must escape in order to save herself. Muna secretly documents every moment of her claustrophobic existence using her cell phone, often filming through her hijab. Her camera also gives us intimate access to her innermost thoughts as it becomes her documentation and her lifeline. As her wedding and therefore her escape draw near, we are glued to Muna’s lens as she risks imprisonment to capture every beat of her journey. But will her meticulous plan to escape succeed?

German filmmaker Susanne Regina Meures is Muna’s active collaborator in the film. Collecting the uploaded secret iPhone footage from her along the way, Meures constructs an equal-parts vulnerable and riveting narrative that is wholly alive with fear and hope for a better life.

Some Background:


  • Susanne Regina Meures

    This is German filmmaker Meures’ sophomore documentary feature. Her first, RAVING IRAN, followed two Iranian underground DJs as they contemplate escaping the repression of their homeland.


  • Christian Frei
    Past Sundance docs:

    GENESIS 2.0 (2018, director/producer/editor)
    SPACE TOURISTS (2010, director/producer/editor)
    THE GIANT BUDDHAS (2006, director/producer/editor)

    Swiss filmmaker Frei was nominated for an Academy Award for his doc feature, WAR PHOTOGRAPHER, and won a directing award at Sundance for SPACE TOURISTS. He also produced Meures’ RAVING IRAN.

Executive Producers:

  • Matthias Erny & Philip Delaquis

    Erny and Delaquis produce through Swiss film company Das Kollektiv für audiovisuelle Werke. This is their first Sundance project.

Assistant Editor:

  • Lars Wicki

    This is Wicki’s first Sundance credit.

Additional Editors:

  • Thomas Bachmann
    Past Sundance docs:

    GENESIS 2.0

  • Christoph Senn

    This is Senn’s first Sundance project.

Why You Should Watch:
As in RAVING IRAN, Meures brings a strong sense of dramatic timing in crafting Muna’s story. Limiting the film to Muna’s perspective results in a wholly gripping, immersive experience for the viewer, and conveys a life-or-death urgency to her subject’s plan.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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