Saudi’s first female filmmaker screens Wadjda in Venice

Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda was screened on Sunday in Venice's Orizzonti sidebar section.

Events and Festivals

Saudi’s first female filmmaker screens Wadjda in Venice

Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda, the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, has made its world debut in Venice.

“There is no film in Saudi Arabia,” she told AFP. “Showing films in public is illegal so we don’t have this culture of filmmaking. I was never able to go on a film set and get training and see how things are. It was very difficult.”

Al Mansour's debut, which she also wrote, is a coming-of-age drama that follows an 11-year-old girl growing up in traditional society in Riyadh who longs for a bicycle and ends up challenging deep-rooted Saudi customs in the process.

“She had this vulnerability and she embodied what a Saudi teenager is,” Al Mansour told AFP. “I wanted to show the tension between modernity and tradition.”

The Match Factory has already sold rights to the film for France, Germany, and Switzerland. Pretty Pictures president James Velaise and Brigitte Suarez of the Match Factory negotiated the deal for France.

"What caught our attention at script stage was that it's a well-written, touching story by a talented, promising filmmaker," Velaise said. "From a marketing point of view it's a perfect package: it's directed by a woman -- the first female Saudi film director -- in a country where no feature film has shot before and where there's not even a theatre."

Wadjda was co-produced by Germany’s Razor Film and several Saudi companies. In addition to German funding, the film also secured backing from the Dubai Film Festival's post-production support programme Enjaaz.

Source: variety.com and albawaba.com

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