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Felix van Groeningen
WADJDA is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. At first, Wadjda's mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what's going on. And soon enough Wadjda's plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself... Written by
Razor Film Produktion GmbH
Wadjda is a school girl who has a dream of driving a bike, which is mostly considered to be a "boys' thing" in her community. That's why she is the only one standing for her dream, without even a little support of family. To collect 800 riyals (price of bike), she decides to compete in Quran competition to win 1000 riyals. Starting from zero and despite all complications, she beats every school girl.
This movie is about many many things. But mostly how big a dream can come and how those inhuman traditions shape persons, narrow their minds and how some of them still are sparkle of light in "darkness". Plot mostly concentrates on Wadjda, but it still exposes bad habits and traditions of Arabian society - problems in family, outside family and at schools. But those supporting stories are quietly playing behind this little girl's strive for dreams.
Wadjda is a quiet type movie. It does not have big emotional culminations or some plot twists. It goes very slowly from the beginning to the end as pale as landscapes of Saudi Arabia. However it's still good movie to watch - its simplicity, clarity and sincerity makes quite enjoyable film experience. Unlike most movies produced in Islam countries, Wadjda does not bring any criticism of religion or traditions or anything else. It just tells a story leaving everything open to judgement.
For the record, director Haifaa Al-Mansour is a first female director in Saudi Arabian and is considered one of the most prolific movie makers in the Kingdom. She truly did a great job illustrating Arabic reality in a very small and personal story of young girl. Haifaa also wrote story herself. Screenplay is quite good, without any major plot holes or fails.
Oscar chances? Pretty good for many reasons. First of all, it's a good cinematic piece. Secondly, it's directed by a woman from Islamic country. Third, it's is first submission by Saudi Arabia. Fourth, it is quite charming and easy to understand story, which can reach to very bottom of every hart. And finally, it gets quite successful PR company by producers and director herself. So, shortlisting is a guarantee, nomination - highest probability, win - I'd not consider this seriously.
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