Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour. Cast: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani. 98 min. Rated PG. Saudi Arabia/Germany. Drama.
Every country has their own local movie industry, but when you watch a "foreign" movie, you're expecting a universal message; something that applies to you too, even though you carry no relation to that country. Wadjda tells an engaging story of a teenage Saudi Arabian girl and her struggle ... to ride a bike in public, while her mother worries about her father's plans for a second wife. It's probably based on scattered true events, and does a fine job at picturing the current status of Saudi women, but at the end, I felt I'd just watched some personal anti-Saudi propaganda.
PS: The film has been awarded with up to 35 wins and nominations at international film festivals.
PSS: Nice perspective by Omar Mozaffar on Roger Ebert's website here, especially:
"... it is interesting that all the voices of compulsion are women. The principal and the unseen grandmother wield unchecked power; one asserts her authority through her office, imposing restrictions through a religious hue, while the other asserts her authority through cultural demands. Perhaps they aspire to nurture and rear their students and children; instead, they disempower them. This is a powerful statement on the nature of oppression: at some point, subjugation breeds subjugation. Perhaps al-Mansour places the source of the oppression on God, Islam, the Qur'an, Saudi culture or men. But in this film, women enact the coercion, and suffer from it. If the problem is patriarchy, it gets internalized, embodied and perpetuated."