Wadjda is the first film to have been entirely filmed within Saudi Arabia, by that country’s first female director, no less. It tells the story of this ten-year-old schoolgirl
Like one of the great Italian neorealist films, it centres on a child and a bicycle. All Wadjda wants is a bike so she can race against the little boy who lives next door, but her mother (Reem Abdullah) refuses to buy her one: in Saudi Arabia, little girls do not ride bicycles. After careful consideration of the matter Wadjda cannot see the logic in this, so she takes matters into her own hands and decides to raise the money for a bicycle herself.
Al Mansour reveals in the film’s production notes that she often had to direct from her production van via walkie-talkie when filming in more conservative areas, but Wadjda offers the hope that for the next generation of Saudi women, things might be different. Modest as it may look, this is boundary- pushing cinema in all the best ways, and what a thrill it is to hear those boundaries creak.
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