A woman’s role in contemporary Saudi Arabia is pretty much prescribed – but as a 10 year old, Wadjda makes the most of her limited options.

Intelligent, savvy, full of energy, her heart and mind is set on a new bicycle (even though the conservative society around her in suburban Riyadh do not approve). She wants to beat her best friend, Abdullah, in a race. With entrepreneurial spirit, Wadjda (a joyful Waad Mohammed) enters the school Koran competition – much to the surprise of her mother (Reem Abdullah).

It’s a simple story modestly told by writer/director Haifaa Al-Mansour (Mary Shelley, The Perfect Candidate). Yet, with its predominantly female cast and first film shot by a woman in the country, it enters the annals of pioneering cinema. Wadjda, in its uncomplicated narrative between home and madrasa, provides a beautifully modulated commentary on the position of women in Saudi Arabia.

Rating: 88%