The first feature film shot in Saudi Arabia, directed by a woman who worked from inside a van directing her crew with a walkie-talkie, Wadjda is a remarkable achievement.
Living in a suburb of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the eponymous 10-year-old heroine is a fun-loving, entrepreneurial girl who always pushes boundaries. Setting her sights on a shiny green bicycle, Wadjda desperately wants it in order to beat a neighborhood boy in a race. But her mother forbids it, based on society’s vision that bicycles are dangerous to a girl’s virtue. Soon Wadjda schemes to raise the money herself by entering a contest to recite verses from the Qur’an. An inspiring coming of age story from a part of the world Western audiences are largely unfamiliar with, Wadjda has a universal appeal.