Sony Pictures Classics has bought all North American rights to “Wadjda,” the first-ever feature directed by a female Saudi Arabian filmmaker.
The drama was well received at its world premiere during the 2012 Venice Film Festival and in its North American debut at the Telluride Film Festival, where it was first screened by SPC.
Written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, “Wadjda” is the first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. It’s the story of a 10-year-old girl, Wadjda, who challenges Saudi traditions in her quest to buy a bike and sees one last chance in her school’s Koran recitation competition and the cash prize for first place.
Sony Pictures Classics has worked previously with the producers, Razor Films and producers Roman Paul and Gerhard Meixner on the Oscar-nominated “Waltz With Bashir.” SPC will release “Wadjda” in 2013.
“I come from a small town in Saudi Arabia, a country where showing movies in public is illegal,” said Al-Mansour in a statement. “To write and direct the first film ever to be shot inside Saudi Arabia, with one of the leading companies in Europe, Razor Films, was beyond my wildest dreams. To premiere my film at the Venice Film Festival was even more incredible, and now to have Sony Classics bring the film to North America, the place from where I first saw the power and emotional possibilities of film, is beyond anything I ever could have imagined.”
SPC negotiated the deal with Rena Ronson of UTA Independent Film Group, who first discovered Al-Mansour at the Abu Dhabi Circle Conference in 2009 and helped to arrange financing along with Razor Films.