Oscars: Saudi Arabia Nominates 'Wadjda' for Foreign Language Category


Sony Pictures Classics is handling the U.S. release of the film, the first Saudi feature made by a female director.

BERLIN – Wadjda, the first film made in Saudi Arabia and the first directed by a woman, has now become the first Oscar candidate from the Islamic state.

Saudi Arabia has nominated the drama from female director Haifaa Al-Mansour as its candidate for the 2014 Oscars in the best foreign language category.

Produced by Germany's Razor Film with Rotana Studios and Saudi-based Highlook Communications Group, the film tells the story of 10-year-old Saudi girl Wadjda (played by first-timer Waad Mohammed) who dreams of owning her own bike, even though girls in her country are forbidden from ridding in public.

"We very proud of this film, which is an authentic representation of our country and our culture and are delighted that the themes and the story of this film has connected with an audience far beyond our borders," said Sultan Al Bazie, president of the Saudi Society for Culture and Arts, which decided to send Wadjda into the Oscar race.

Wadjda debuted to critical acclaim at the Venice Film Festival last year and has been winning festival accolades for its director and international sales for The Match Factory.

Sony Pictures Classics, the veteran of many a successful foreign language Oscar campaign, including the one this year for Michael Haneke's Amour, will bow the Wadjda stateside.