Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
  • Library Hall

Coinciding with the year that Saudi Arabia first allowed women to be appointed to the formerly all-male Shura, the king's assembly that advises him on laws and other issues, and Saudi women were first eligible to vote, this was the first-ever feature film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. The film is Wadjda, and it also happens to be an award-winner written and directed by a woman, Haifaa Al-Mansour.

Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself.

At first, Wadjda's mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what's going on. And soon enough Wadjda's plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see Wadjda as a model pious girl. The competition isn‘t going to be easy, especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams.

Read a story about the film in the New York Times.

Run time: 98 min.
In Arabic with English subtitles