If you haven’t seen Wadjda yet, GO! Wadjda is a Saudi film about a young girl who sees a bicycle on the back of a truck, and immediately knows that she must have it. She is a spunky, curious eleven year old, who is navigating coming of age in Saudi society. She starts different money making schemes to earn money to buy the bike (forbidden for girls) and runs into trouble at first. Instead she enters a contest at school reciting the Koran to try to win the cash prize to buy the bike.
This film has been on my radar for a while, and I’d really wanted to see it but hadn’t had time. Finally today I looked up the times and decided to go by myself – and I was just in the knick of time, because today is the last day it’s showing in Boston!
There are a lot of things I liked about the film. I am often cautious about films that seem like they are going to simplify all of Islam as bad for women (which I was afraid of going into the film), but I thought the film did a good job of complicating that notion. As the director said:
I think a lot of people expect the film to be more confrontational, and maybe more radical in its delivery. But my film is less a criticism of the system as it is of people who think they are powerless to change their place within it. I wanted to show that the characters have choices, and that the easiest choice is always to conform, and that the choice to break away can be difficult but also incredibly rewarding. I also wanted to make a film Saudis could be proud of, and one that would make film as a medium seem less threatening.
The movie also showcases issues of gender, class, sexuality, and ethnicity in Saudi Arabia in a way that feels genuine, and doesn’t present easy answers for the viewer.
If you haven’t seen it, check it out soon before it’s out of theaters!