Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 9+
Beautiful, nuanced tale of an independent Saudi girl.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wadjda is the first Saudi Arabian movie to be directed by a woman, and it centers on a feisty, independent girl who wants to ride a bicycle, wear sneakers, and be able to compete against her best friend -- a boy in the neighborhood. The movie explores the various religious traditions and laws that many Muslim girls and women have to follow, especially when it comes to dress and submitting to men in authority. There are a few sad moments, references to girls having their period, and one incident in which a male construction worker says something lewd to a young girl, but otherwise there's no violence or strong language (except for one "damn"). An adult smokes cigarettes more and more as the movie progresses. Also, the movie is subtitled rather than dubbed, but older kids and tweens should be able to keep up with the easy-to-follow story.
- Families can talk about the importance of using media to explore other cultures and what growing up in other places is like. What does Wadjda teach us about Saudi Arabia?
- Do you think it's obvious that the movie was directed by a woman? What do you think she's trying to say about Saudi society?
- Does this movie make you want to see more foreign films? Why or why not?
The good stuff
Positive messages: The movie encourages independence and equal rights for girls. Wadjda's story stresses the importance of friendship between boys and girls and also of having goals and dreams.
Positive role models: Wadjda is a persistent, determined young girl who decides to learn how to ride a bicycle, even though it's not generally accepted for girls to ride bikes. She also has her own sense of style and asserts her independence and self confidence in various ways, from the reason why she enters the Quran memorization contest to how she sells bracelets to save up for something she wants to buy. On the other hand, she does lie to her principal -- though it's to save a classmate from severe punishment.
What to watch for
Violence: Wadjda falls off her bike. Some sad moments.
Sexy stuff: Wadjda's mother works hard to look her best for her husband and to please him. A religion teacher explains that when girls have their period, they're not allowed to touch or hold the Quran. A teen student's reputation is ruined when it's clear that she rode in a car with a man who wasn't her father or brother. A construction worker whistles at Wadjda and asks her to let him "touch those little apples."
Language: One use of "damn" (in subtitles).
Consumerism: Some car companies logos/brands seen, like Chevy Suburban, Mercedes, etc. Wadjda wears Converse-like sneakers, but the logo isn't prominently visible.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Wadjda's mother smoke cigarettes more and more as the movie progresses.