Date Screened: 14th April 2014


An enterprising Saudi girl signs up to her school’s Koran recitation competition to raise the remaining funds in order to pay for the green bicycle that has captured her interest. This charming film is the first to be submitted from Saudi Arabia for Academy Award consideration.

DIRECTOR: Haifaa Al-Mansour

Waad Mohammed , Reem Abdullah , Abdullrahman Al Gohani

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes


COUNTRY: Saudi Arabia, Germany

BBFC RATING: PG (Click here for the full classification report)

Reaction Index Score: 93%

Official Trailer


The Guardian logo
The eponymous 10-year-old Wadjda (affectingly played by 12-year-old Waad Mohammed) is a spirited, lower-middle-class schoolgirl in Riyadh, troubled by the impending separation of her parents, who longs to own a bike to race against her friend Abdullah. The implication is that she’s rapidly approaching the age of not being able to cycle, meet a boy or go out of the house unveiled … Click here for the full review
Al Mansour reveals in the film’s production notes that she often had to direct from her production van via walkie-talkie when filming in more conservative areas, but Wadjda offers the hope that for the next generation of Saudi women, things might be different. Modest as it may look, this is boundary-pushing cinema in all the best ways, and what a thrill it is to hear those boundaries creak … Click here for the full review

Mark Kermode

Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark Kermode is the UK’s leading film critic.Feted as one of the finest film reviewers of his generation as well as for his impeccably-coiffured quiff, Mark Kermode presents the film review on Radio 5 live with Simon Mayo in a broadcast partnership that has lasted nearly 20 years.
Click here for more reviews and information

Empire Online logo
As simple and charming as you could wish for, this is a genuinely pioneering debut from a female Saudi filmmaker and a striking piece of work by any standards … Click here for the full review and rating
Making unheard voices heard is the thrust of this poignant, playful and politically charged coming-of-ager from Haifaa Al-Mansour (Saudi Arabia’s first female director and the first person to shoot a whole movie in SA) … Click here for the full review and rating
Narratively, Wadjda is of a type rather than trailblazingly original: the earnest but gently comic tone as well as the content of Samira Makhmalbaf’s films is particularly recalled, as is the emotional trajectory of the ‘kids compete’ documentary strain so beloved by festivals since the success of Spellbound (2002). Still, Haifaa al Mansour’s debut merits recognition for its fresh-feeling take on the trope whereby the travails of a child protagonist mirror those of a wider society. It also has a place in the history books as the first feature film ever to have been shot entirely in Saudi Arabia – and by a female director at that … Click here for the full review