Wadjda

2012 | Drama | 98 minutes | Arabic with English titles

Info

This is a funny, romantic drama about Wadjda, a spirited 10 year-old Saudi girl living in the capital city of Riyadh. Her dream is to buy bicycle so she can race against her neighborhood friend Abdullah. Her mother opposes the idea as young girls riding bikes is against Saudi culture. Wadjda is determined but she must raise the money to make the purchase. She starts by selling mixtapes and hand-braiding bracelets to sell to classmates. At school, Wadjda decides to participate in a Koran recital competition. Her memorization of passages from the Koran impresses her teacher and she wins. Wadjda shocks the school staff and fellow students when she announces she will use the prize money to buy a bicycle. The headmistress immediately informs Wadjda  the money will be used to support the Palestinian refugees. When Wadjda returns home she is devastated to hear  her father is leaving the family to marry a second wife.  Wadjda tries to console her mother suggesting that if she buys a beautiful red dress it may convince her father to return. Instead, her mother tells Wadjda that she used the money to buy the bicycle. An elated Wadjda takes her bike to race against Abdullah. She wins!

Cast
Waad Mohammed (Wadjda) / Abdullrahman Al Gohani (Abdullah) / Nouf Saad (Koran Teacher)
Why Stream This Film?
 There are significant attributes with Wadjda. It’s the first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and  the first feature film made by a Saudi director, Haifaa Al Mansour.  All this would mean very little if the film was a bomb. Fortunately, Wadjda is a terrific film.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 99%
  • Metacritic Score: 81
Accolades
  • Boston Society of Film Critics Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film
  • Los Angeles Film Festival: Winner, Best International Feature Film
  • Venice Film Festival: Winner, Best Film
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Winner, Best Director (Haifaa Al-Mansour)
Critics and the public will likely agree that the film transcends mere surprise and delivers a winning, handsomely crafted story with a charismatic lead guaranteed to charm international audiences. 
Jay Weissberg

VARIETY

With impressive agility, WADJDA finds room to maneuver between harsh realism and a more hopeful kind of storytelling. There is warmth as well as austerity in Wadjda’s world, kindness as well as cruelty, and the possibility, modestly sketched and ardently desired, of change.
A.O. Scott

The New York Times

We kick off the 10 Best Films of 2013 with WADJDA—a funny, romantic drama about a Riyadh girl’s quest to buy a bicycle. The film’s nomination as Saudi Arabia’s Oscar contender is an implicit nod of approval from the country’s mainstream.
Henry Barnes

The Guardian

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