Cast: Summer Shesha, Khairia Nazmi, Salih Khalagi, Aziz Gharbawi
Crew: Producers: Zoey Lee – Screenwriters: Khaled Nadershah
Sara is a 26-year-old girl living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her conservative mother and father Ahmed. They keep comparing her to her Cousin Mai who is younger, about to be married and has graduated from university. Which is everything she is not, older, still in university and divorced. Haifa and Dana her friends from university are the only ones that don’t judge her rebellious behavior like smoking in public and going to parties. But even her friends don’t know that she is secretly pregnant. Fed up from the pressure to conform, Sara decides that she wants to do her masters degree abroad. Anywhere away from the social burden and the stress from her family. She approaches her father with a university application to study abroad however he adamantly refuses insisting she may only travel once she remarries. Rebellious as she is, Sara puts on make-up in a failed attempt to seduce a man in hopes of marriage right off the street just outside her university. Sara drags her friend Haifa to the party of the night at Hisham’s house but not before dropping off Dana to rendezvous with her boyfriend who she cannot marry because her father rejected him. Sara finds herself sitting with Hisham considering him as a potential suiter. Although she knows he is already married, she doesn’t mind being a second wife just so she could travel. Despite all that, he rejected her and she returns home frustrated. The next morning, as she is picking out a dress to wear to her cousin’s wedding, she receives news that her friend Dana has mysteriously passed away where later Sara finds out that it was drug overdose. Sara and her mother head to Dana’s funeral in order to pay their respects. However, Sara was also there to sneak into Dana’s room and dispose of any evidence. As she is doing so Dana’s brother Sultan almost catches her in the act. As the days went on Sara discovers that she is the talk of the town as people are blaming her for Dana’s death. Consumed with guilt, Sara is still unable to sleep since her friend’s passing. Regardless, she puts her make up on and heads to Dana’s home to visit her sister Dalal in hopes of bumping into her brother Sultan. As Sara is consoling Dalal, she spots Sultan heading out for a smoke. She follows him. She pays her condolences to him and expresses her concern. She also gives him her phone number. Waiting for him to call, Sara is dancing in her room while filling out her university application. With Sultan in her life, she feels one step closer to her dream of escaping. With hope of a new chapter, Sara finally decides to take ownership of her life again. Sara is getting ready for Mai’s wedding while her mother and father are arguing. As Sara and her mother are on their way to the wedding, her mother is trying to stifle a cry that turns into a small emotional breakdown about accepting her husband’s philandering ways. They arrive at the wedding where Dalal introduces Sara to Sultan’s fiancé Rawan. Shocked and confused, Sara storms out of the wedding and drives to that a location she used to frequent with her ex-husband. It was then she realized Sultan was nothing but a reverie. Her actions that evening however, were not. She had hell to pay with her father, despite her mother begging for mercy. Exhausted, Sara decides to look like everyone else. She conformed. To belong.
Khaled Nadershah is a filmmaker who started his venture of perusing a career in film at the Met Film School in London, United Kingdom where he obtained a BA in Film. During his studies at film school, he has worked on multiple shorts, feature films, documentaries, music videos and multi cam live shows. After obtaining all that experience, he decided to write and direct his first feature film titled “Exit 5”.
Independent film “Exit 5” is a drama that captures the life of a young Saudi woman named Sara, who lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Sara, like the environment she lives in, struggles with a desire to move forward while still bound by society’s expectations, social conformity, and its consequences. With the intention to pursue a master’s degree in visual arts outside the kingdom, recently divorced Sara begins an unconventional search for a marriage of convenience to break free from parental restrictions. Despite the kingdom’s accelerated progression, there are still a large number of people that don’t believe in the independent capability of their daughters, sisters or wives. Hence these women are caught in the midst of two completely different social ideologies. One that is embracing changes in women’s lifestyles, and another that is clinging to traditional cultural norms. As the director and screenwriter of this film, I had the opportunity to tell this story that I feel strongly about in a way that would resonate with the audience. Having grown up in Saudi Arabia, and completed my education abroad, I got attached to stories that convey the nuances of a culture, especially as the culture is undergoing transformation. “Exit 5” is an authentic representation of the culture, so it was very important to use real Saudi homes, traditional clothing, and venues, rather than building movie sets. All of these elements were carefully chosen to give the audience a glimpse into aspects of Saudi culture and mannerisms surrounding rituals like wedding and funerals. The film also captures Jeddah’s conflicting nature, in that it can be isolated even though there are many people around. While Jeddah is a cosmopolitan and social city, with almost everyone being connected to a large group of family and friends, the people of Jeddah can still feel isolated. Social restrictions and pressure to maintain appearances create this isolation, and make it difficult to genuinely socialize except in specific settings. This is conveyed through the scenes of empty streets and the lack of sidewalks. To further drive the theme of conflicting ideas, it was important to frame the shots to resemble family portraits. I wanted to show how society is obsessed with depicting an image of perfection, in contrast to the reality. It was a technical challenge to portray this still and polished image, but I was committed to delivering the theme in every aspect of the film. Music is also used to capture the conflicting forces within our society, with a specific piece that infuses cultures and genres and provides a backdrop for one of the key scenes in the film. This picture is a visualization of a clash between two generations, a clash that forces Sara to find answers to questions that she fears asking. I hope to raise awareness about this struggle while helping those who are already aware realize that they aren’t alone.