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DIFFDIFF Journal 2014Dubai Film Festival's Best Arab Film Goes to Haifaa al Mansour's 'Wadjda'
DIFF Journal
Dubai Film Festival's Best Arab Film Goes to Haifaa al Mansour's 'Wadjda'
Wed Sep 17, 2014
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At the 9th edition of DIFF acclaimed filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour scooped the top prize walking away with the Best Arab Feature prize for Saudi Arabia’s first feature film, the multi-award winning “Wadjda”, while the film’s young protagonist Waad Mohammad won Best Actress. Like audiences around the world, the film screened to rave reviews at DIFF’s screening of her transfixing and extraordinarily touching film. Partially inspired by her own youth, this heartfelt coming-of-age story chronicles a young girl pushing the boundaries of modern society in Saudi Arabia as she strives to possess her own bicycle. The ground-breaking film had already been awarded the Art Cinema Award at The Venice Film Festival 2012 and sparked international discussion and interest in the burgeoning talent of the Arab World.

The project began at GFF's Script Market in 2007 and was supported by Enjaaz, the post-production programme of the Dubai International Film Festival to complete the film.

Last September, “Wadjda” became Saudi Arabia’s first submission to the Oscars. In what some American critics called a “surprise omission,” the movie did not make best foreign picture shortlist in the Oscars. The film did receive a nomination for the best foreign film prize at the EE British Academy Film Awards earlier this year.

However, “Wadjda” and Haifa Al-Mansour’s success go beyond this historic Oscar nomination, with reports that the film grossed more than USD 40,000 in three cinemas in its first week of release in the US and a total to date of over $1.4 million. The Hollywood Reporter described the film’s first week gross as being “arguably the best showing of the weekend among new limited releases,” under the headline “Saudi Arabian Drama ‘Wadjda’ Shines.”

“Wadjda’s” domestic premiere in the US grossed USD 13,000, the highest grossing figure for an independent film in recent times. The film has received unexpected critical acclaim in the US and Europe, where it has also enjoyed financial success. In the United Kingdom, “Wadjda” grossed USD 559,000. In Italy, revenues reached USD 493,466, while in Spain the film grossed USD 385,000, according to statistics released by Box Office Mojo.

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