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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Wadjda

This film is as smart and funny as its young heroine but doesn't gloss over the fact that public life in Saudi Arabia is very limited for women.
By Karina Abadia
July 14, 2013
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By Karina Abadia
July 14, 2013
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This is not only the first full-length film made entirely in Saudi Arabia but it’s also the first feature to be made anywhere by a Saudi woman. In a country where woman are forbidden to drive or vote, that’s a pretty major achievement. At times director Haifaa Al Mansour even had to direct from her production can via walkie talkie.

Our protagonist is, not surprisingly, female. The sassy ten-year-old Wadjda refuses to conform to societal expectations of women; her biggest ambition is to beat her male friend and neighbour in a bicycle race even if this means having to feign piety by entering in a Koran recital competition. This film is as smart and funny as its young heroine but doesn't gloss over the fact that public life in Saudi Arabia is very limited for women. This might be a familial tale but it is boundary pushing cinema in all the best ways.

To read the Concrete Playground Ten Must See Films at the New Zealand International Film Festival 2013, click here.

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