Saudi Arabia, 2012 (MIFF 2013, A League of Their Own: New Arabic Cinema)

Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour

The first feature ever shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia, by the country's first female director, Wadjda is a boundary-pushing gem.

Centred on the simple premise of a young girl who desperately wants a bike so she can race against her best friend, this charming coming-of-age story with a winning central character – the spunky, smart and resourceful Wadjda – offers a fascinating and rare insight into daily life in the Saudi capital Riyadh, a city never before seen on film, in a country with no cinemas.

Light-hearted in tone, it looks at life as a young female in this ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom through a series of beautifully judged vignettes. Newcomer Waad Mohammed as the title character is a natural, while director Haifaa Al-Mansour (who studied film at Sydney University) crafts a vital, feminist film full of hope.

"At its heart a celebration of youth … Wadjda is a film that I feel privileged to have been fortunate enough to watch." – The London Film Review

D/S Haifaa Al-Mansour P Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul Dist Entertainment One Hopscotch L Arabic w/English subtitles TD DCP/2012

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