What a [Saudi Arabia] Girl and Her Bike Can Say About Women’s Rights

Tierney Sneed – U.S. News & World Report – Monday, 23 September 2013 (originally published 17 Sept)

Girl looks at bike
Waad Mohammed plays Wadjda in “Wadjda.” Image: U.S. News & World Report.

In many ways, the plot of “Wadjda” is one any current or former child can relate to. Wadjda, a spunky 10-year-old girl, wants a bike and will do anything to get it. She will sell bracelets at school. She will charge for favors for her classmates – and will con them into paying her double. She will even sweet-talk the store owner into putting the bike on hold for her, until she can raise money to buy it.

“Wadjda” is also notable in that it is reportedly the first feature length movie filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia (It will also be the country’s first Oscar entry). Making it even more remarkable, it was written and directed by a Saudi female filmmaker, Haifaa al-Mansour.

“It was very important to me was to not offend people back home . I wanted to maintain my voice. I wanted to make a movie about freedom, about a girl who wants to ride a bicycle,” she says. “I know that idea is very controversial back home. It’s not like something they’ll accept. But in the process of making the film, I wasn’t trying to push it even more, or be so loud that when Saudis see it, they don’t see themselves in it . . . ”

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