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Wadjda

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Director: Haifaa al-Mansour
2012 / 98min / DCP

Wadjda The liberatory promise of the bicycle is acutely felt in al-Mansour’s Wadjda, whose eponymous character, an 11-year-old girl from Riyadh played with charm and conviction by Waad Mohammed, wants nothing more than to have a bike with which she can race her boy neighbor—and when refused her wish by her disapproving mother, she’ll go to extraordinary lengths in order to make it come true. The first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature film by a female Saudi director, forced at times to coach actors via walkie-talkie in order to work around laws that forbade her from publicly mixing with male cast and crew members, the release of Wadjda just may have had a little to do with Saudi Arabia lifting a ban on young girls riding bikes the year after its release.

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