Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) School of Arts and Science presented a Saudi Arabian movie, Wadjda in Dec. 7 at the Walker Auditorium.
Vanessa Rocco, assistant professor of art history, and Deborah Varat, the chair professor at the Department of Art and Science, hosted the event.
A good amount of undergraduate and graduate students came to watch the movie. “They have generally increased in attendance over the last three years. I think it is safe to say that last night was the most successful single film in the series that I can recall. We believe there were approximately 60-70 people in attendance,” said Rocco.
In Saudi Arabia, three dominant factors, the legal, the social and the economic influenced the current situation of Saudi women. The Saudi law requires women to follow the Sharia/Islamic law, which has two main sources, Qur’an and Sunnah (the practices and ways of Prophet Mohammad’s life), maintain socially conservative and work at the low level jobs.
Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first female film director who portrays the gender struggle in Saudi Arabia through her first movie, Wadjda.
Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl, living in Riyadh, the capital city, with her mother. Her father wants to leave her mother for a second wife. On the other hand, Wadjda tries to find a way to experience freedom.
The movie ended with a brief discussion. Students shared their opinions on what they thought about the movie. “I thought the movie brought to light a lot of the restrictions that women have in many parts of Saudi Arabia. I really liked how simple the story line was, but was also intense bringing up serious issues that women face, not just in Saudi Arabia but other countries as well,” said senior Emily Shupp.
“I was especially pleased that approximately ten students raised their hands when I asked about what made Wadjda “relatable” to us despite being from a very different culture,” said Rocco.
The School of Arts and Sciences will continue the film series for the spring semester as well. “This is not the last film we show you, we are going to have our film series for the spring semester, too,” said Rocco.

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