Wadjda (2013) — Saudi Arabia
Wadjda is a spunky ten-year-old girl in Riyadh who's living on the adolescent borderline between innocence and knowledge. She also has a mind of her own. Whereas her classmates wear dull black shoes, she wears canvas high tops with stars and purple shoe laces. She paints her toenails, listens to rock music at home, and saves up to buy a bike so that she can race her neighborhood buddy Abdullah. She also knows that the principal of her school has a lover, that a classmate just got married, that her own father might take a second wife because her mother hasn't given him a boy, and that she always has to veil herself and make herself invisible to men. The film, written and directed by Haifaa Al Mansour, is the first feature length film by a Saudi woman, and it tackles gender roles head on. Riding a bike, in a country where it's illegal for women to drive, is a wonderful symbol of the freedom to roam. In Arabic with English subtitles.