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Wadjda

A charming tale of a young Saudi girl who will stop at nothing to earn enough money to buy the bicycle she craves.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

Wadjda

  • Director-Screenwriter Haifaa Al Mansour
  • Producer Roman Paul, Gerhard Meixner
  • With Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani
  • Saudi Arabia-Germany 2012
  • 97 mins
  • Sales The Match Factory

To shoot a film on location in a country where cinemas themselves have been banned for over thirty years is some kind achievement for any director. When that filmmaker also happens to be a woman, in a country where it is illegal for women to drive let alone direct, makes Haifaa Al Mansour’s accomplishment with her debut feature Wadjda all the more impressive. It is just as well then that Al Mansour’s story of a precocious young Saudi girl from a lower-middle-class family in capital city Riyadh is a beautifully-made, heartfelt gem. Offering audiences a rare glimpse into everyday Saudi society, Al Mansour confirms herself as a major new Arab filmmaking talent to watch.
Ali Jaafar

Director statement

I’m so proud to have shot the first full-length feature ever filmed entirely inside the Kingdom. I come from a small town in Saudi Arabia where there are many girls like Wadjda who have big dreams, strong characters and so much potential. These girls can, and will, reshape and redefine our nation. It was important for me to work with an all-Saudi cast, to tell this story with authentic, local voices. Filming was an amazing cross-cultural collaboration that brought two immensely talented crews, from Germany and Saudi Arabia, into the heart of Riyadh. I hope the film offers a unique insight into my own country and speaks of universal themes of hope and perseverance that people of all cultures can relate to.
Haifaa Al Mansour

Director biography

The first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, she is regarded as one of the most significant cinematic figures in the Kingdom. She finished her bachelor’s degree in Literature at the American University in Cairo and completed a Master’s degree in Directing and Film Studies at the University of Sydney. The success of her three short films, as well as the international acclaim of her award-winning 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows, influenced a whole new wave of Saudi filmmakers and made the issue of opening cinemas in the Kingdom a front-page discussion. Within the Kingdom her work is both praised and vilified for encouraging discussion on topics generally considered taboo, like tolerance, the dangers of orthodoxy, and the need for Saudis to take a critical look at their traditional and restrictive culture. Through both her films and her work in television and print media Al Mansour is famous for penetrating the wall of silence surrounding the sequestered lives of Saudi women and providing a platform for their unheard voices.

Filmography

2005 The Bitter Journey [s]; The Only Way Out [s]; Keif al-hal? (Who?) [s]; Women Without Shadows [doc]
2012 Wadjda

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