"Wadjda": Q&A with Saudi Arabia's First Female Director

An Interview with Filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour

While directing her film, "Wadjda," in Saudi Arabia, Haifaa Al-Mansour was forced to direct some scenes via walkie-talkie while hiding in a van. Al-Mansour recalls, "I used that walkie-talkie to the max...I screamed, 'Make the frame wider!'"

The story of a rebellious 11 year-old Saudi girl's quest to buy a bike, "Wadjda" is the first feature film shot exclusively in Saudi Arabia, where movie theatres are banned and women are strictly segregated. The title character uses trade and entreprenurialship to subvert the oppressive forces of conservative, tribal Saudi society, while her loving mother tries to convince her father not to take a second wife.

"I wanted to depict a character who will embrace life and fight for it," says Al-Mansour. "I think such messages are very important in the Middle East. A lot of people think if they change the regime, their life will be all ok. It doesn't happen and there's a lot of disappointment, because change needs a lot of dedication and a lot of work."

"Wadjda" is currently screening in New York and Los Angeles, and is Saudi Arabia's submission for this year's foreign language Oscar.

About 5.30 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Jim Epstein.

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Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The Saudis don't go to movie theaters, they watch films on DVD exclusively at home? Who knew the country was so far ahead of the western world?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Hell, the women (or anyone wearing that getup) could watch it on a flipdown screen and no one would know the difference.

  • ||

    Can't you appreciate the ritual splendor of going out in public to watch a movie on a big screen? I suspect that Western culture has been enriched by the pagan iconography of the big screen, a healthy counterbalance against the distrust of icons that both Christianity and Islam (to varying degrees) inherited from the Abrahamic tradition of monotheism.

  • juliajuli||

    my roomate's mom makes on the internet. She has been out of a job for six months but last month her paycheck was just working on the internet for a few hours. browse this site......


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