Wadjda – a Film Review

Lincoln Green 

Image © Arria Belli

[The review contains plot details.]

The child’s perspective provides the film director with an opportunity to observe and implicitly comment on a situation with an unencultured and potentially critical eye.  This device has been used in films such as Offside (2006, dir. Jafar Panahi ) where an Iranian girl attempts to watch a World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Bahrain, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, dir. Guillermo del Toro) where fantasy plays alongside the horrors of war in 1944 fascist Spain, and numerous others.

In Wadjda (2012) the female writer and director Haifaa Al Mansour employs this technique to comment on cultural norms, particularly those affecting women, in present day Saudi Arabia.  The film is the first official Saudi Arabian submission to the Oscars and the first feature length film made by a Saudi female.  To avoid problems when filming with mixed genders Al Mansour had to direct some outdoor scenes via radio when concealed in the back of a van.   Read more of this post

Book Review: Hollywood and the CIA: cinema, defense and subversion by Oliver Boyd-Barrett, David Herrera and Jim Baumann

Image© Miguel Angel Azua

Red Lester

SPOILER ALERTS: This review refers to plot points in some of the films mentioned.

Two recently released films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, both nominated for the Oscar for Best Film in the 2013 awards, have been criticised in some quarters for aspects of their portrayals of the CIA. Argo, which won the award for best film has been accused of exaggerating the role of the CIA agent, altering and creating events for dramatic effect, and presenting the Iranian people as an aggressive and fanatical mob.  In the case of Zero Dark Thirty, opinions are divided over whether the film glorifies or justifies torture as a means of obtaining intelligence; it certainly alarmed members of the US Senate who wanted the CIA to deny that such techniques had been used to gain information. Questions were also asked about whether ‘inappropriate’ intelligence had been shared with the scriptwriter. Read more of this post