Wadjda

Here’s a coming-of-age film portraying the life of an Arab girl. Making it even more novel, it’s reportedly the first feature film directed by a Saudi woman. Haifaa Al-Mansour gives us an appealing, surprisingly spirited character in Wadjda and a sensitive, subtle depiction of Arab family life. It’s a fascinating exploration of resilience — and, yes, grit.

If you work with middle schoolers, you should see this film. Better yet, if you work with middle schoolers, you should take them to see this film. The movie is rich with topics for discussion and opportunities for cross-cultural understanding. I offer two minor cautions. You’ll want to prepare them for the foreign-film experience of reading subtitles. And, though the film is rated PG, there’s one queasy-making moment when 10-year-old Wadjda deals with a sexual taunt from a group of adult men, but she handles it with aplomb.

Don’t miss it.

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