Saudi woman makes film

This video is called Wadjda Offical Trailer (2013) – Haifaa Al Mansour.

By Jeff Sawtell in Britain:

Wadjda (PG)

Thursday 18 July 2013

Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour

After a week of woeful weather and farcical films my faith in cinema as an art form was restored by Wadjda.

Like Kes, it features a child who’s determined to struggle to survive a system designed to deny those that ask questions and have ambition.

Ken Loach‘s classic of the ’60s features a boy who wants to raise a kestrel. Wadjda is a girl who wants a bike.

The difference being that the story of Wadjda was conjured up in the feudal patriarchy that is Saudi Arabia, where freedom is a foreign concept.

In that country no feature films are produced, there are no cinemas and films are banned although they’re obviously available illegally.

What makes Wadjda even more remarkable though is that it’s been written and directed by a woman, Haifaa al-Mansour, who completed her degree in Cairo and then studied film in Sydney.

She went on to make three shorts and a documentary Women Without Shadows for which she was both praised and pilloried.

That experience proved pivotal, enabling al-Mansour to lift the veil and provoke a national discussion about opening cinemas.

While she had co-operation from Germany in making the film it was paramount that al-Mansour employ Saudi actors, not least TV star Ream Abdullah who plays Wadjda’s mother. But the choice of unknown Waad Mohammed to play the 11-year-old Wadjda is inspired.

Wadjda lives with her mother as her father has another family and her ambition is to buy a bike to race with the boy next door, despite being warned it could endanger her virginity.

What the film reveals is that behind the walls of home and work, women wear largely Western clothes – especially those that will attract a man – yet without a hijab in public they’re “whores.”

Wadjda makes money selling football bracelets but it’s not enough so, against her convictions, she enters a Koran recital contest with a cash prize and that process of brainwashing – learning by diktat – couldn’t help but make me think of our own dear Tory government’s plans for education.

On the verge of puberty, Wadjda is allowed some latitude, and there are other ambitious women around, including her teacher.

Thus, armed with charm and fighting spirit, she exemplifies the wind of change that accompanies the development of a growing technocratic class.

Related simply and without art-house pretentiousness, Wadjda is a revelatory and truly inspirational piece of film-making.

Saudi filmmaker battles gender barriers: here.

‘Wadjda’, Film by First Saudi Female Director, is a True ‘Miracle’: here.

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