Wadjda and the Saudi women fighting oppression from within | Rachel Shabi

The first film by a woman in Saudi Arabia exposes the country's denial of women's rights while giving Muslim feminism a voice

It would be hard not to like Wadjda, a new film from Saudi Arabia and the first to be directed by a woman in the male-dominated kingdom. A rare cinematic glimpse of a barely known country, the film tells the story of an independent-minded, cheeky young girl, Wadjda, who wants to buy a bike so she can race with her neighbour, Abdullah (who she shouldn't be playing with).

Some of Saudi's multiple, choking, all-encompassing controls over women are thereby exposed: the prohibition on women driving or mixing with men; the taboos over laughing or talking in public, or riding bicycles as these might defile virginity. However, the women in Wadjda – and the titular hero especially – are not depicted as wholly passive victims, but rather come across as striving,
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