Dunya's Day

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Dunya's Day

Directed by Raed Alsemari

  • Saudi Arabia 2018; 14 min
  • Original version: Arabic
  • Genre: Drama, Comedy
    • Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction - Sundance FF


A dark comedy set in an affluent suburb of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the film follows Dunya on the day of her graduation party. Hours before her esteemed guests arrive, all the domestic help take off – fed up with “Madame” Dunya’s antics. Aided only by her two sidekicks, can Dunya throw a flawless fete and protect her hard-earned social status?

Director's Statement

At its core, DUNYA'S DAY is about a woman’s relentless pursuit of status. Tired of seeing clichéd narratives of oppression that reduce Arab women to victims or saints, I set out to portray a flawed but fierce Arab woman who is neither. While developing the central characters, it was exciting to draw from the archetypes of classic comedies like HEATHERS and MEAN GIRLS and to re-imagine those personalities in my hometown. From Riyadh to Brooklyn, I’ve encountered women and men who share Dunya’s obsessive need for social validation. Over time, I’ve learned to understand their motivations and – on some level – to admire their tenacity. Though I’m not proud of it, making this film led me to discover there may be a little bit of Dunya in myself. I wanted to ensure that my satirical approach would not compromise the character’s humanity. After committing to an “un-likable” protagonist, I worried about finding a performer who would internalize Dunya’s wants and insecurities without judgement. My doubts instantly disappeared when I saw Sara Balghonaim’s layered and loving take on the character.