London Film Festival 2012 – day three: Wadjda
Sunday 14th October, 9pm – Vue Leicester square
In an age of global connectivity, where the use of social networking keeps the everyman in touch with…well…anything he wishes, there are still pockets of societies whose practices many of us are unfamiliar with.
Extreme religious ideologies continue to dominate in much of the Middle East, meaning that acclaimed director Haifaa Al Mansour found her sex to be one of the main obstacles when filming Wadjda on location in Saudi Arabia’s capital city Riyadh.
Wadjda is an inquisitive young Saudi girl (Waad Mohammed) whose dream it is to own the brand new bicycle she sees parked outside her local shop on her way to school. Her best friend Abdullah (Abdullrahman Al Gohani) owns one, but because of laws in Saudi Arabia that separate men and women, Wadjda is told it would compromise her virtue. With little help from her mother (Reem Abdullah), she goes about raising the cash herself through various selling schemes that don’t go unnoticed by the people closest to her.
Despite the plot staying fairly simple and narrow, what makes this film especially gripping is the culture shock to which we are introduced. Wadjda’s headmistress Ms Hussa (Ahd Kamel) represents the antithesis of Saudi culture, constantly telling Wadjda off for not acting ‘properly’. German cinematographer Lutz Reitemeier beautifully illustrates her cold, steely demeanour and acts as an opposite to the liberty that Wadjda so obviously craves.
This is bound to stand out as one of the most important foreign-language films in this year’s festival. Although some scenes are a little too slow, the talent is evident. If Wadjda is a starter then I am very much looking forward to what Al Mansour is cooking up for her main course. She is a director worth keeping a very close eye on.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.
Watch the trailer here: