A Stranger in Her Own City follows Najmia, a theriteen year old girl, who flouts custom by not wearing a veil, by playing in the streets with boys her age, by riding a bicycle, a scooter and generally doing whatever sh...展开e likes. She is cursed, ridiculed and threatened, but, buoyed by a truly indomitable spirit, she perseveres with incredible good humor and sense of perspective.
"I met Najmia by chance as I was walking around the old city of Sanaa. I noticed this young girl struggling to live her life freely in a society that places so many restrictions on women. She was unveiled, played in the street with boys, rode a bicycle and did whatever she felt like.
Fortunately that day I had my camera and began to shoot spontaneously. I went back to film her in her neighborhood and remained discreet. Najmia's personality put her in the spotlight since people were not used to seeing a strong girl like her. Though most people rebuked her, I noticed a feeling of admiration as they joked and laughed with her.
After seven months of shooting the film, Najmia's father stopped her from attending school and ordered her to wear the veil. A year later when the film first prize at the Berlin Film Festival, the President of Yemen asked to see the film. He was so drawn to Najmia's personality that he offered to pay for Najmia's education. That to me was the best prize I could have ever gotten for the film.
Like Najmia, I too had a rebellious personality. Forced to get married at 11, I realized I had to fight my battles myself. With my mother's help I was able to secure a divorce and quickly realized that education was my key to success and independence. I worked at a local TV station in the afternoons and went to school in the mornings. At 16 I won a scholarship to study film-making in the United States and Najmia ‘s story is my first film.
Relatives who earlier opposed me now praise me and hope their daughters would follow in my footsteps. Instead of being a bad example, I became a good example. This change makes me happy and makes me feel like I contributed to the evolution of women in my country