Coming of Age

Phil Hoad on Haifa al-Mansour’s feature film debut:

Wadjda’s marketability blinds us to the fact it’s part of a bigger story that receives little sustained attention: the difficulties faced by Arab film-makers, men and women, across the region. In the Gulf especially, authorities rarely understand cinema that is only just beginning to shift in less conservative regimes, like Qatar and the UAE, let alone in Saudi Arabia. That means a poor skills base from which directors such as al-Mansour – who is lucky enough to be foreign-educated and supported by a progressive figure like Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal – can draw.