The drama Wadjda has the distinction of being the first feature shot in Saudi Arabia with an all-Saudi cast. More importantly, it’s the first Saudi film made by a native female director, Haifaa Al Mansour. The Saudi/German co-production, which was supported in part by billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal’s Rotana Studios, has enjoyed plenty of recognition on the festival circuit, securing awards at the Venice Film Festival and L.A. Film Fest. A trailer for Wadjda finally hit the web, providing a look at this film’s inspiring story.
Wadjda follows the title character, an independent, headstrong girl determined to buy and ride a bicycle despite being forbidden by law to do so. Considering the subject matter, the footage supplies some surprisingly heartwarming moments, which focus primarily on lead actress Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah, who plays Wadjda’s frustrated but loving mother. It should be interesting to see how the film balances humor with its heavy political themes. See trailer, with synopsis, below.
WADJDA is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale that she wants desperately so she can race her friend, Abdullah. But Wadjda’s mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. At first, Wadjda’s mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what’s going on. And soon enough Wadjda’s plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see Wadjda as a model pious girl. The competition isn’t going to be easy, especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams…
Sony Pictures Classics acquired the hot property last September from Berlin-based Razor Films, and Wadjda makes its theatrical debuts in the UK on July 19th – the film will not, however, see release in Saudi Arabia, where movie theaters have been banned since the 1980s. No release date has been set for the US by Sony Pictures.