Saudi woman’s dream unveiled in Cannes

Saudi Film Director Haifa Al-Mansour

The first Saudi feature film is directed by a Saudi woman and talks
about a Saudi woman’s dream

By Iqbal Tamimi

It has been a gigantic leap for Saudi women to Cannes 2012 Festival. The
Saudi female filmmaker unveiled
the dreams of ‘Wadjidah’ under the spotlights of Cannes. Wadjida is an
11 years old Saudi girl who has a dream to own a green bike that she can ride
to school.

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The story of the first Saudi
feature film that was shot entirely in the Saudi city of Jeddah, was written
and directed by Saudi woman, Haifa Al-Mansour. Wadjidah is Al-Mansour’s first
feature-length drama but she has shot three short films as well as the
award-winning documentary Women Without Shadows. Her works tell the unheard
stories of Saudi women.

The film is about the dream of 11-years
old Saudi girl « Wadjidah », who lives in the suburbs of Saudi capital city
Riyadh, and dreams of owning a green bicycle that she can ride to school. To
make her dream come true she does odd jobs in order to afford the price of the bike.

A number of Saudi actresses starred
in the Saudi – German joint production, including Reem Abdulla, one of Saudi
Arabia’s best known television actresses. The German brilliant production team included
award-winning German cinematographer Lutz Reitemeyer (White Deer Plain),
Gerhard Meixner and Roman Paul of Berlin-based Razor Film, whose credits
include Oscar nominees Paradise Now and Waltz with Bashir.

The production was financed Rena
Ronson of the UTA Independent Film Group. Ronson first kicked off financing for
the project when she met with Mansour at the Abu Dhabi Circle Conference in
2009. Saudi partner Amr Alkahtani of Rotana Studios, owned by Saudi Prince
Walid bin Talal,  provided additional
financial and logistical support on the ground during the shoot.

The movie in question has already
raised eyebrows because of the amount of censorship still enforced on media
production in Saudi Arabia, especially when it comes to women’s participation,
and the fact that Saudi women still need a male guardian’s permission to be
able to do most things in Saudi Arabia, including travel and work, let alone
driving a motorbike or doing odd jobs. Saudi women are still fighting for their
rights to drive, and face a huge amount of obstacles when they seek employment
in Saudi Arabia.




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