Wadjda. Haifaa Al-Mansour (Saudi Arabia, 2013)

Film essayist Alessia Palanti does an excellent job of writing about independent and foreign cinema. Please go take a look at her blog. Her contemplation on “Wadjda” is a good place to start, considering the first feature by a Saudi woman is released on DVD and Blu-Ray today, and I’ll also recommend her writings on “12 Years a Slave” and “The Great Beauty.” Enjoy!

Camera Obscura

wadjda From Riyhad, Saudi Arabia, where cinema’s silence is louder than its industry, comes Haifaa Al-Mansour’s Wadjda . This is the first feature ever made by a Saudi woman—that in itself a minor miracle. In fact, Al-Mansour had to direct many of the scenes with a walkie-talkie from the back of a van as the Saudi law forbid her to intermingle with the men on the crew. The filming process took five years, between such technical and production impediment

Many critics have called the film “deceptively simple,” and I will unapologetically steal that remark agreeing wholeheartedly that the film suspends tension even when it confronts it. Thankfully, it is not a film that preaches about women’s rights, or a woman’s struggles in Saudi Arabia. It evades the bleak undertones of a “BBC documentary series.”  All such issues are interwoven into a narrative that focuses on the life of one young…

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