Wadjda is the title of a Saudi movie produced in 2012. It’s the first feature length film written and directed by a Saudi female movie director, Haifaa Almansour. It was shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia.
The story of the movie is about Wadjda, an 11-year-old Saudi girl living in the capital Riyadh, dreams of owning a green bicycle that she passes in a store every day on her way to school. She wants to race against her friend Abdullah, a boy from the neighborhood, but riding bikes is frowned upon for girls and Wadjda’s mother refuses to buy one for her daughter. Wadjda tries to find the money herself by selling mixtapes, hand-braiding bracelets for classmates and acting as a go-between for a teacher, activities which run her afoul of the strict headmistress. Her mother, meanwhile, is dealing with a job with a terrible commute and a husband who is considering taking on a second wife, because Wadjda’s mother can no longer have children.
Wadjda decides to participate in a Quran recital competition featuring a SR1,000 cash prize (equivalent of about US$270) which would allow her to pay for the SR800 bike. Her efforts at memorizing the verses impress her teacher, but when Wadjda wins the competition, she shocks the staff by announcing her intention to buy a bicycle with the prize money. She is told that the money will instead be donated to Palestine on her behalf.
Wadjda returns home to find that her father has taken a second wife, and that her mother, now sporting a shorter haircut that she wanted but her husband opposed, has bought the green bicycle from the toy store. The next day, Wadjda wins her race against Abdullah.
[plot quoted from Wikipedia]
What makes this movie special?
It is enough to be Saudi to make it special. I am not saying that arrogantly, but Saudi has no movie theatre, and so producing a full movie with high standards is not something to witness everyday. No wonder, the movie could make it to London, Dubai and Venice Movie festivals.
No. I’m rather supportive to any try to better help the world understand Saudi culture through media productions. As a first timer, I think the film succeeded to shed some “light” attention on social issues such as women covering faces, people living double standards, girls not allowed to ride bicycles…and so many others.
Thank you for reading my post of this week.
My name is Noor Elhayat and I write from Saudi Arabia. I like to dance, eat bagels and write.
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