Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 26 September 2014


Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) is a ten year old girl from Saudi Arabia who lives with her mother (Reem Abdullah) in Riyadh. She's from a very conservative society where women have to cover their hair around men, but she is a very lovable girl who's always pushing the boundaries to her limitations. When one of the boys (Abdullrahman Al Gohani) begins teasing her and outruns her on his bike, she promises that she will buy one to race him and beat him. She sees a beautiful green bike on sale and since her mother doesn't give her the money because she considers girls shouldn't ride bikes, Wadjda decides to raise the money herself. The perfect opportunity presents itself when director Ms. Hussa (Ahd) offers prize money for the winner of a Koran recitation competition at her school. Wadjda begins to dedicate her time and efforts to this competition, while her mother is worried about trying to convince her husband (Sultan Al Assaf) to stay with her and not get remarried. Wadjda is dedicated to achieving her goal despite the limitations presented by the people around her.

We have seen a few world cinema titles here since I began writing this. UNCLE BOONMEE from Thailand, which I love; UNDERCURRENT from Peru which is an interesting gay interest title; but WADJA from 2012 is the first film I have seen from Saudia Arabia so thanks to our resourceful Film4 channel for screening it yesterday. It is a charming, perceptive film about the role of women in these countries where they cannot openly be themselves. We in the West often do not realise how difficult it can be for them, particularly now with more international tensions. 

Female director Haifaa Al Mansour gets great performances from her cast - Wadjda and her mother in particular, and that bitch of a school-teacher. The enterprising Wadjda wins the school competition but cannot use the prize money to buy the green bicycle she has set her heart on. Girls cannot ride bicycles and the money must be donated. But there is a surprise in store .... the ending is uplifting as Wadjda finally rides her bicycle and races the boy who says he wants to marry her when she grows up. This is a warm, perceptive film accessible to every nation. I am so pleased I saw it. 

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