Wadjda: First Saudi-Arabian Film

wadjda_posterThe first-ever Saudi Arabian feature, written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, centers on a young schoolgirl living in a Riyadh suburb, determined to buy herself a bicycle to explore and deplore the restrictive gender politics of her society, which sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue.

The fact that the film is made by a female director is all the more impressive.  Al Mansour violates defiantly several taboos in her  country, where films are banned and women cannot drive or vote.

Thematically and visually, the tale appears to be inspired by the poetic simplicity of the Italian Neo-realistic cinema (“The Bicycle Thief” and others by Rossellini and De Sica) as well as Iranian cinema of the past two decades, specifically Jafar Panahi’s 1995 classic, “The White Balloon.”

Released by Sony Classic in September, Wadjda is the best-reviewed picture of the year (99 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes), and also made a strong impact at the box-office, grossing $1.5 million.





Haifaa Al-Mansour.

Running time: 98 Minutes

Release date: September 13, 2013.

February 10, 2014


Reem Abdullah as Mother

Waad Mohammed as Wadjda

Abdullrahman Al Goha as Abdullah

Sultan Al Assaf as Father