Saudi Arabian film director Haifaa al Mansour has made history in her home country for being the first woman to get into the director’s seat and the first director to have a film submitted for a nomination for an Academy Award. And now she is also speaking out on behalf of peace in the Middle East by naming an Israeli film director as one of her inspirations.
Speaking to Variety this week in a feature tracing the upward trajectory of female film directors across the Middle East, the “Wadjda” director named Rama Burshtein, the Haredi Israeli director whose rich and graceful drama “Fill the Void” was Israel’s 2012 submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, as someone whom she admires.
“Wadjda” tells the story of a young girl growing up in Riyadh who dreams of owning a bicycle and racing it alongside the local boys in her neighborhood.
The film is the first full-length feature to be made in Saudi Arabia and has been hailed by critics at festivals across the globe.
Mansour, who grew up in Saudi Arabia but now lives in Bahrain, has spoken widely about her commitment to filming in her home country despite the difficulties that the nation’s archaic laws present.
She directed many of the outdoor scenes of “Wadjda” via cell phone while staying out of sight in one of the on-set trailers.