With today's news that Wadjda will become the first Saudi Arabian film submitted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar consideration, the film—also the first directed by a Saudi woman and the first shot in the country—continues its history-making streak.
Though Haifaa Al-Mansour's film, about a girl named Wadjda on a quest to own a bicycle, confronts the harsh realities of gender politics in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Society for Culture and Arts wanted it to represent the country at the Oscar ceremony. "We are very proud of this film, which is an authentic representation of our country and our culture and are delighted that the themes and the story of this film has connected with an audience far beyond our borders," said Sultan Al Bazie, the president of the society, according to Scott Roxborough of The Hollywood Reporter.
But Wadjda, according to New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, treads lightly when it comes to confronting women's roles in Saudi society. Mansour told Nora Caplan-Bricker of The New Republic that she wanted to make sure the film would be shown in Saudi Arabia. "Wadjda is circumspect about putting forth any overt criticisms of mosque or state," Scott wrote. "Instead, the movie presents the facts of its heroine’s life — and also, more obliquely, the lives of her mother, classmates and teachers — with calm authority and devastating effectiveness."
With fabulous reviews—it's 97 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes—and its history-making potential, Wadjda will probably dominate much of the foreign film chatter as awards season kicks into gear. You can watch the trailer here:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.