‘Wadjda’ Director: ‘It Is Time To Open Up’
“A unique and inspiring film starring an independent-minded Mighty Girl was recently released on DVD — “Wadjda” is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature-length film directed by a Saudi woman. It tells the story of a young girl, Wadjda, who falls in love with a bicycle she sees in a store window but lives in a country where women are banned from freely riding bikes in public.
When her mother refuses to buy it for her, Wadjda decides to raise the money herself through a variety of schemes that first get her labeled a troublemaker, but end up earning her the respect and admiration of her family, teachers, and peers. The simple story makes a perfect framework for al-Mansour to examine the challenges and societal pressures facing girls and women in one of the world’s most restrictive countries.
In an interview with NPR, Director Haiffa al-Mansour described how she wanted to make a film “that mirrors reality as much as possible. I couldn’t make a film where women are all innocent and they’re all striving to be free and all that; it’s not real.” In fact, she points out, “a lot of women are the gatekeepers, a lot of women reinforce the values.” But, she added, “I wanted also to make a film that is happy… I wanted to make a film that when I see it, I feel powerful.”
Speaking of Wadjda, the title character, al-Mansour noted that “she’s a kid and she’s just discovering the society around her. She’s discovering what she can do and what she cannot do… She wants to assert herself and be heard. But she’s not trying to be aggressive as much as assertive. She’s trying to find herself, to enjoy life, and for me that was a very important theme in the film… It is about finding happiness, pursuing a dream, and stuff like that.”
Filming in Saudi Arabia involved many challenges: “Saudi is segregated, and women are not supposed to be outside, and all that. So whenever we would shoot our outdoor scenes, I would be in a van, and I would sit with a walkie-talkie and a monitor… It was tough; it was very frustrating to be in that confined space. But it was rewarding.”
Even with these obstacles, al-Mansour observed, “I think it’s time now in the Middle East to bring films of that type. It is a hard, tough time now in the Middle East, and it is up to people to change things — if they really change at heart. Not only by changing regimes and political stuff, but also by believing in women.”
To read the full interview with Haiffa Al Mansour, visit http://n.pr/1ovDoTg
Content Courtesy: A Mighty Girl