Haifaa Al Mansour

THE SIMPLE CHANGES I am witnessing in Saudi Arabia go far beyond movies and are partly propelling the country's new momentum.

The ban on women drivers  was a dream that I had all but given up years ago. It has always been one of those symbols in the global psyche , along with no movie theaters, that has defined us as people and a country.

The ban also inspired me to make ''Wadjda'': I explored the plight of women through the metaphor of a girl wanting a bicycle .

The character just wanted control over her own movement, and to achieve the same velocity as her male friends.

Her mother was restricted daily by driver, who has been one of the most frustrating aspects of daily life for Saudi women. Fortunately, the grumpy driver character will be relegated to Saudi Arabia's history books in June when women are granted driving rights for the first time since 1957.

I was recently invited along with 13 men and two other women, by Awwad Saleh AIwwad, the Saudi Minister of Cultural.

As I arrived in Riyadh from my home in  Los Angeles for our first official meeting in April,  the country all ready felt different.

Women suddenly seemed visible, working in shops and dressed with splashes of color. They have identities. They are not afraid to be seen.

I thought of that girl waiting outside a video store. She is now part of the government's efforts to bring arts to a society starved for culture.

It is surreal and overwhelming. But soon, like all great changes after normalcy returns, it could seem like the most basic right in the world.

That will be when the real work begins, when we push ourselves to move beyond normal to create something extraordinary.

The World Students Society thanks and wishes Ms. Haifa AI Mansour, a Saudi Arabian film director, its very best.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!