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The Black Abaya

The traditional abaya serves as an important symbol of Islamic and nationalistic identity for people in the Arab Gulf states. Recently the Abaya has moved beyond the Arab Gulf states, emerging into the world at large and adapting yet again to meet the needs and tastes of Westernised Muslim women. Moreover, it has been adopted into the world of Western high fashion and is now being worn by non-Muslim women. It has become a truly global garment but the mystery around its origins still remains, begging the question as to where did the Abaya really come from?

  • Nancy Paton
    Daisy, Postpartum, Choke
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 15, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Saudi Arabia
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Canon 5D Mark III
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Nancy Paton

Nancy is an award-winning Australian director, screenwriter and producer residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Nancy’s passion for film was developed and nurtured in her early years at Newtown Performing Arts High School and since graduating from the University of Sydney she has worked extensively in the film industry. Moving to New York City, studying at the Atlantic Acting School and working at Michael Mailer Films allowed her to develop as a screenwriter and film producer however her true passion has always been directing, so whilst working at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, Nancy wrote the award-winning screenplay Daisy which she later directed and won 11 awards for. Soon after finishing Daisy she wrote, produced, directed and starred in Postpartum that was filmed in Saudi Arabia with an amateur all-female film crew, which also has won a numerous number of awards. She then went on to filming a couple music videos in Saudi Arabia and the documentary Maisy and the Making of Daisy in London. She just won the grand prize in LA of $100,000 for her 48 Film Project film Choke for which she also won Best Director award for. Nancy lectures Digital Photography, Screenwriting and Storyboarding at Raffles Design Institute in Riyadh and currently she is filming the documentary Garage Sale and developing three feature films In Her Shoes, Touched and Frame. She has just completed her short documentary The Black Abaya.

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Director Statement

Fear of the unknown is what causes war and hatred around the world. The West is still uneducated when it comes to Middle Eastern Culture and tradition. I hope to breakdown some of these misconceptions. In particular the misconceptions around the traditional Middle Easter female garment, The Black Abaya and in turn hopefully there will be less fear and more acceptance, because there are truly some amazing women under those abayas.