Haifa Al Mansour, director of Wadjda, receives the award for Best Film at the Dubai International Film . Festival in Dubai. Credit:Satish Kumar / The National

Haifaa al Mansour- Saudi Arabia’s first female director’s landmark film “Wajda,”  won the Best Film award in the Muhr Arab Feature category at the Dubai International Fim festival last Monday.

Wajda is the story of  a Saudi girl who is testing the boundaries of a woman’s place in a highly conservative society where her love for Western music and fashions land her in trouble. The movie is considered to be the first feature film that is completely shot in Saudi Arabia , in the city of Riyadh.

It was the most talked about film at the festival and it rightly took home the biggest prize at the closing ceremony.Wadjda’s lead actress, the 10-year-old Waad Mohammed also took home the Best Actress award in the same category. His performance of a child with an impish personality and resilience in times of adversity  left some of the film’s first viewers in tears.

Haifa Al-Mansour had previously stated that she was forced to direct the  feature film from a van with a walkie-talkie in some of the conservative neighborhoods of Riyadh where she could not be seen in public together with male crew and cast. Sometimes local residents would scream at her and block shooting altogether. An emotional Haifaa Al Mansour said that the award meant a lot to her.