Thursday, 27 February 2014

Wadjda (film)

The last Eastbourne Film Society choice for their 2013-2014 season is to be the Saudi Arabian film,Wadjda. An important film because it is the first from Saudi Arabia to be directed by a woman, there is an interesting Guardian blog here about the issues surrounding it. Director Haifaa al-Mansour spent five years on the project and insisted on every scene actually being shot on location in Saudia Arabia, despite the country having practically no film industry. Outside assistance was sought from German production company Razor Film who were also involved with one of my all-time favourite films, Waltz with Bashir. Wadjda premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival.

Wadjda is a young Saudi Arabian girl whose only dream is to buy a green bicycle and race against her friend Abdullah. However, not only is Wadjda not supposed to mix with boys, social pressures also forbid her the bicycle. When her mother refuses to buy the bicycle, Wadjda sets about earning enough money herself. She runs errands for her teachers and sells mixed tapes of songs. However, the school's headmistress finds out and Wadjda is put back to square one. Finally a solution seems to appear in the form of a Qu'ran recital competition with a cash prize.

We saw Wadjda when it was screened at Hailsham Pavilion last year and it is a very good film. I was a little concerned that the circumstances of its creation were resulting in an 'emperor's new clothes situation, but this is not the case at all. Wadjda depicts a society which is very different to our own but does so in a way that makes it easy for us to access this closed world for a short time. The film does not make strong declarations about the culture it portrays, but simply shows us a period in the lives of Wadjda and her mother. It is a moving piece of film-making which did provoke anger in me at the treatment of Saudi Arabian women but also inspires hope that future generations will not have to endure the same.

Curzon Cinema, Wed 12th Mar, times tbc.
Tickets £6.80 adults, £4.80 concessions, available by calling 01323 731441 or in person at the Box Office (3pm to 7pm daily)




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