Entertainment News / First Saudi Film > The female director of Saudi Arabia’s first feature film, showing at the Venice film festival, has explained how she beat the odds to produce the heartwarming tale of a girl’s quest to own a bicycle.
In Haifaa Al Mansour’s landmark film “Wadjda,” 10-year-old Waad Mohammed plays a girl who is also testing the boundaries of a woman’s place in a highly conservative society where her love for Western music and fashions land her in trouble.
Mohammed’s impish personality and resilience in the face of adversity add to the poignancy of the story and left some of the film’s first viewers in tears.
“She had this vulnerability and she embodied what a Saudi teenager is,” Al Mansour said, speaking in the lush courtyard of the Excelsior hotel.
“I wanted to show the tension between modernity and tradition,” she said.
Al Mansour said she was forced to direct what is her first feature film from a van with a walkie-talkie in some of the more conservative neighborhoods where she could not be seen in public together with male crew and cast members.
In some areas, screaming local residents would block shooting altogether.
She said finding financing also posed a problem in a country where cinemas are officially banned and any film is considered a commercial risk.
“Wadjda” will only be available in the kingdom on DVD or on television.