w a d j d a
A film made in a country where cinemas are illegal. About a girl who wants to buy a bike.
It's no exaggeration to say this film is utterly remarkable. Even before broken shark watched Wadjda it was remarkable. Afterwards, it is just wonderful.
Filmed entirely in Riyadh by a Haifaa Al-Mansour, about one girl’s small rebellion against a conservative culture and her mission to buy a bicycle. Something that ‘girls just don’t ride’ in Saudi.
Waad Mohammed is just awesome as the tom-boyish Wadjda. Mature beyond her years in her acting, she is perfectly cast as the independent, wilful schoolgirl. The film doesn't seek to preach, lecture or hammer home any political agenda. It deals with the challenges faced by women in the male dominated Kingdom. This is not a Western view of a culture it seeks to judge, it's a film by a local woman about local issues. Wadjda's fight is not with the ruling classes, it is with her headmistress, her mother's driver or anyone else who gets in her way.
We hope this director does more beyond this because she has a great eye for framing interesting shots - see the truck with the bike in the back – the bike ‘riding’ along above a wall from Wadjda’s viewpoint, and the closing shots of her on the bike.
Wadjda avoids any clichés and does not pander to any Western ideas about Saudi life. It is honest, wilful and optimistic, just like it's main character. it is nothing short of a triumph that this film managed to get made in the first place, but it deserves to be seen without any of that baggage.
We really loved this film and very much insist that you seek it out when it's released in the UK on 2nd August 2013. In the meantime, it's also showing at the BFI Southbank on March 8th as part of the International Women's Day Gala and then again at The Human Rights Watch Film Festival on 22nd March as their closing night gala.
Check our extended cinema release review here.