So I finally watched a Wadjda: a film directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour. Yes, my excitement has been building up and finally watching it today was just as anticipated: brilliant! And brilliant on so many levels!
The film is about human resilience and hope:
a girl who wants something passionately, who won't take no for an answer; with determination and hard work she gets what she wants, a voice in society. The bicycle, which she so much wanted but was not allowed, becomes the vehicle towards freedom and equality. Parallel to that, we have the story of this child's mother and father with the issues of gender, again, highlighted. And in both parallel stories we have love and passion Vs tradition and society.
In my few brief minutes of meeting the film's director, Haifaa Al- Mansour, i asked "why a bicycle? if you want to talk about equality there is a million other things that could have been the objects of desire or the mission and battle of the character". She replied "the bicycle is non-threatening; it's a toy" and that's exaclty what makes this film so beautiful. It tackles the issues of tradition, lack of gender equality and religion in a strong and determined way but with no threat: in the same way there are no "baddies" in the film, there are no big threats: just the stories of multi-layered characters put in a journey of Passion Vs Society. And talking about multi-layers, even the character of Wadjda's dad brought much warmth: despite his final choice and conformity to society's rules, we see a man full of warmth towards his daughter but also encouraging her to just be, something that he, in the end, maybe did not manage to do.
I would definitely recommend this film; it had me sitting on the edge of my seat, it had me crying and laughing. And if you have the chance to meet Haifaa Al-Mansour, who by the way is the first female Saudi filmmaker, you'll probably also be captured by her warmth and friendliness.It was a real honour watching the film and meeting its director.