"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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