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Wadja: A girl, her bike, and her dreams

Bicycling and feminism come together again in the movie Wadja.

“Saudi’s first feature film is groundbreaking on many levels, featuring the kingdom’s first female director, Haifaa Al Mansour, and a female lead. It’s also the first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia.

“Wadjda” tells the story of a determined young girl who competes in a Quran recitation contest.

She enters in order to win enough money to purchase a green bike so she can beat her friend Abdullah in a race; despite the fact that unchaperoned women aren’t allowed to ride bikes in public.

Though Saudi Arabia’s fundamentalist Wahabbi leadership cites religion as the reason for its restrictive laws, Wadjda uses religion as a means of buying herself a bit more freedom by memorizing verses from the Quran for the competition at her all-girls school in Riyadh.”

From the Huffington Post

The film is already causing controversy. See Newspaper warns that ‘Wadjda’ win could hurt country in Variety.

In the Saudi Gazette, Khalaf Al-Harbi writes that “Wadjda,” which is Saudi Arabia’s first-ever foreign-language Oscar entry, should not win because it won’t be good for the country. The film concerns a 10-year-old girl who wants to ride a bike, unaware that the activity is the domain only of boys in the Kingdom.

Al-Harbi says a win for the film “will open discussion about the tribulations of the Saudi woman and her forced seclusion. We do not want such idle talk. The Saudi woman is a precious jewel which is to be tightly guarded. She should not at all think of riding a bicycle. If the circumstances obliges her to ride a bicycle as a means of transport, she can recruit an Asian driver to do the job.””

If you live in London, Ontario (like lucky us, thanks Mallory for the heads up) it’s playing at the Hyland Cinema until  November 7th. It looks like it brings together themes from two of our past posts: The Velocipede Races and Will bike riding in Saudi Arabia change the way women dress? Any blog readers seen it already? What did you think?

5 thoughts on “Wadja: A girl, her bike, and her dreams

  1. Thanks for this. I will add to the blog post as an addendum link.

    No, I don’t think that film is coming to our city…for now. I hope the girl will be safe cycling around and in general, since strange folks locally are worried over nothing.

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  2. I wanted to go see it last night but I was overruled. My wife wanted to see Gravity instead. Gravity was an absolute piece of sh&t! Overwrought, predictable, pedestrian outright crap that most of the time made want to stick my finger down my throat. Read Katherine Morrone’s review in the Daily Emerald – looked up unfavourable reviews once I got home thinking I couldn’t be the only one who considered this movie to be an insult and trash. Really wish I’d seen Wadjda instead – so does my wife now.

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