Germany, United Arab Emirates


Hissa Hilal is the voice from behind the veil. Her weapon is her word. Hissa is a self-taught writer and she says what she thinks. She decides to take part in the Million’s Poet show, an Abu-Dhabi based TV show. It is the Arab world’s biggest poetry competition, and it is dominated by men. Hissa works herself up, becoming the first woman in the finals. In her poems she criticizes the patriarchal Arab society and she attacks one of the most notorious Saudi clerics for his extremist fatwas, live, in front of 75 million viewers. We’ll never see Hissa’s face. Like the majority of Saudi women, Hissa is covered from head to toe. She is not allowed to drive a car. She doesn’t own a passport. And she requires consent from her husband for any sort of activity. Coming out of nowhere, the housewife Hissa is suddenly breaking news in the biggest Western and Arab media. How did she gain the knowledge and the courage to step on stage and risk her life? This is Hissa‘s story.

Director's Statement

Hissa Hilal is a contradiction. She appears covered in black, her face is hardly visible and she could be perceived as a fanatic religious Muslim. But all of this is not the case. Hissa is a Saudi woman with four children who was born into a traditional Bedouin family in a desert tent. It's only natural for her to wear a burqa. This is a film about a woman who grabs the opportunity to speak out and to talk against religious extremism to stand for a peaceful Islam.


a.o. 2017
IFF Locarno - Worldpremiere
IDFA Amsterdam
20th International Tel Aviv Documentary Filmfestival - doc aviv
SWR DOKU FESTIVAL 2018 – Award of the 'Norbert Daldrop Förderung für Kunst und Kultur'

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Stefanie Brockhaus, Andreas Wolff

Produced by: Andreas Wolff

Cinematography: Tobias Tempel, Stefanie Brockhaus

Editing: Hansjörg Weißbrich, Anja Pohl

Original Score: Sebastian Zenke

Sound Design: Christoph von Schönburg

Cast: Hissa Hilal

Nominations and Awards

  • Documentary Selection 2018