Wadjda, a German-Saudi Arabian co-production was one of the films I missed last year which I most wanted to catch up with. The first feature film shot entirely in the KSA and the first to be directed by a Saudi woman, Wadjda was a film which I had hoped would wipe away my preconceived ideas about a nation I know little about. Unfortunately it acted to strengthen those ideas and actually add to them. It is however a thought provoking movie with a lot of heart and allows a glimpse behind the curtain and into a rarely seen land.
Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) is a sprightly and industrious eleven year old girl living in Riyadh. It’s her dream to own a green bicycle which she spots in a local shop but more than that, she dreams of the freedom which would accompany owning the bike. Constricted by rules and religion, Wadjda is a rebel, wearing Converse trainers and listening to foreign pop music, she’s often at her School Principle’s office or causing her equally troubled mother concern. In order to earn the money for her prized bicycle, Wadjda enters a Koran reciting competition for which she studies (ahem) religiously.