The challenges of being a 10-year-old girl with dreams of bucking deep-rooted Saudi traditions are examined in Director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s debut feature film Wadjda.
In the film, a young girl’s desire to get a bicycle sets her off on a quest that will defy the conventions of the conservative world in which she lives, especially after she enters a Koran recitation competition at her school in order to win the money.
Wadjda broke ground by being both the first film ever shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and by being directed by the first female Saudi filmmaker. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won the CinemAvvenire Award for “Best Film” as well as the C.I.C.A.E. Award and Interfilm Award for Haifaa Al-Mansour.
Following the screening in the DGA Theater in Los Angeles on September 19, Al-Mansour discussed the challenges of making Wadjda – that included her having to direct some scenes from the interior of a van as she was forbidden from publicly interacting with her male crew members and actors on the streets of Saudi Arabia. The conversation was moderated by Global Cinema subcommittee Chair Victoria Hochberg (Reaper).
Al-Mansour’s other films include the short films Who?, The Bitter Journey, The Only Way Out; and the award-winning documentary Women Without Shadows.