Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SFF Review: Wadjda (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2013)

Written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, graduate of the University of Sydney, Wadjda is the first film to be shot in its entirety on location in Saudi Arabia. It is also the first feature from a female Saudi filmmaker. Beautifully crafted, admirably honest and unwaveringly optimistic, Wadjda provides fascinating insight into everyday life in the nation’s capital, Riyadh, and tells a sweet and uplifting tale of the earnest belief in life’s potential and teenage independence within a strict conservative culture. Vibrantly shot, with a striking performance from young lead Waad Mohammed, this is an enjoyable, heartfelt crowd-pleaser and a very important work of international cinema.

Wadjda (Mohammed) is not your typical 10-year-old girl – she’s intuitive, full of energy and individualism – with the unusual desire of owning a bike. While her father continues to provide for Wadjda and her mother, he is set to take another wife in the hopes that she will bear him a son. He splits his time between both women, which is a cause for anxiety for Wadjda’s mother. At school, Wadjda is rebellious, blatantly disobeying the strict customs that virtuous females must abide by and she has several run-ins with her upstanding headmistress. On the streets she befriends a local boy and gets herself into many unladylike situations. She swindles her classmates for cash by selling bracelets and mix tapes, hoping to buy the bike herself, eventually deciding to try and win the cash prize offered by the school Quran recitation competition. Her attention to her studies, and the memorising of the religious verses begins to change people’s perspective of her.

Continue reading at Graffiti With Punctuation.

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