Wadjda | 2013 | dir. Haifaa Al-Mansour
For me, the most meaningful final image of 2013 came from a perfect little poetic film that the Oscars have already ignored — the first Saudi Arabian film directed by a woman, and as first features go, basically a miracle — Wadjda. In Saudi Arabia, where Wadjda’s mother (like all women) is prohibited to drive a car, Wadjda wants something little girls aren’t allowed to have either — a bicycle. It won’t spoil too much to say that Wadjda bravely attains that bike by the end of the film, and after racing past the boy who one day wants to marry her, she arrives at this intersection. There at the crossroads, all of adulthood streams past her, the men in their cars and she on her bike. She looks left, she looks right; she smiles. And our hearts swell with the certainty that nothing on earth will stop her.