The 2014 Oscar-nominated film, Wadjda, about a Saudi girl’s struggle for individuation, reveals as much about the power of independent filmmaking today as it does the stagnation of an 80 year old Arab nation whose King died on January 23, 2015. Western viewers are drawn into the ultimate reality show, whereby, life in a very guarded and repressive society is revealed on the big screen. Thus the film’s attention and accolades. Wadjda provides an access point to talk about present-day Saudi life and the sanctioned disregard for women in ways that might elevate the floor of debate in American politics, business, and media during a time when US-Saudi relations are being revisited because of waning U.S. dependence on Saudi petroleum, a re-escalation of American militarization in the Middle East, and continued Saudi support of radical conservative Muslim extremist groups around the world.
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