First Feature Film in Saudi Arabia Gets Oscars Nomination

January 30, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. taboo /təˈbu, tæ-/ (adj.) – unacceptable in a society; cannot be used or talked about
Example: In some traditional cultures, modern practices are often considered taboo.

2. patriarchal /ˌpeɪtriˈɑrkəl/ (adj.) – dominated or ruled by men
Example: Women are often discriminated in patriarchal societies. 

3. move /muv/ (v.) – to touch a person’s emotions
Example: The story about a young boy’s struggle for his dreams moved the lady into tears.

4. plight /plaɪt/ (n.) – a sad or unfortunate condition
Example: I feel sorry for the plight of women in strict patriarchal societies.

5. disguise /dɪsˈgaɪz, dɪˈskaɪz/ (v.) – to change one’s appearance to avoid being recognized
Example: The girls disguised themselves as boys so they can join the team exclusive only for boys.


Read the text below.
Wadjda [WAJ-da], the very first film that was shot in Saudi Arabia, became the kingdom’s first film to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

The movie centers on a girl’s dream to ride a bike, which is taboo in Saudi Arabia. In the country, only boys are socially accepted to ride a bike. The film also revolves around the girl’s relationship with her mom as they both find their place in Saudi’s patriarchal society.

Director Al Mansour fell in love with film during her childhood. She has since wanted to make films with characters that would move people and themes that would reach an audience.

In her first film, Al Mansour wanted to portray the life of women in Saudi Arabia. To do this, she studied some films from countries where women have the same plight as the women in Saudi Arabia.

One of these films is Iran’s Offside, which tells the story of Iranian girls who disguised themselves as boys just to be able to watch a World Cup qualifying match. Al Mansour was also inspired by Italian films that were made after World War II. These films motivated her to make movies that document the interesting reality that she was living in.

The reality Al Mansour mentioned is how women in Saudi Arabia are deprived of many things that the women in other countries enjoy. Some are as simple as riding a bike, but some are as complicated as travelling abroad and choosing a husband.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Would you be interested to watch this film? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think some directors focus their films on social issues like gender discrimination?

Discussion B

·         How do you think discrimination of women can be avoided?
·         How can women be empowered?


January 30, 2014