The conservative Saudi Arabia has seen their first female director make her debut at a film festival in Venice despite all the odds against her. Haifaa Al Mansour tried to make people see through the limitations placed on women in the conservative Islamic kingdom through the tale of a strong-willed 10-year-old girl, Wadjda, living in Riyadh.
Director Haifaa Al Mansour said “Wadjda” aims to address the segregation of women in Saudi Arabia, where they hold a lower legal status to men in all things; are banned from driving and need a male guardian’s permission to work, travel or open a bank account.
Directing in Saudi has been hard on Al Mansour with mixing with men seen as a taboo especially in conservative areas of the country. She would hide in vans at times and communicate with her male actors on walkie-talkie. She’s happy though that things are getting better.
Born in 1974 to a poet, Abdul Rahman Mansour, Although her film may have limited audience in her homeland, producers have however promised a wide distribution on DVD and TV, as movie theatres are illegal in Saudi Arabia.