If you missed Haifaa al-Mansour’s beguiling girl-and-her-bike story Wadjda when it was in theaters in late 2013, SPOKE magazine is co-presenting a screening of the ground-breaking and rightly praised Saudi Arabian film on Friday, April 10. Part of the “Tour de Film” festivities at The Glass Factory in Brewerytown, Wadjda stars Waad Mohammed in the title role, an entrepreneurial 10-year-old who wheels and deals her way around Riyadh and longs desperately for the shiny olive-green bicycle on sale at a neighborhood store -- then she can really wheel and deal. But girls aren’t supposed to ride bicycles; it's considered undignified, inappropriate, in conservative Islamic culture, which is the culture all around her. Wadjda, then, is both a children’s film and a film for adults that considers issues of religion, gender and personal freedom. The first Saudi feature to be directed by a woman, Wadjda celebrates the liberating power of riding a bike – on so many levels.
Also on the “Tour de Film” program is “Jitensha” (the Japanese word for bicycle), Dean Yamada’s charmingly moody 2009 short about a misfit office worker who gets in a fight, quits his job and then finds the pieces of his bicycle slowly going missing -- first the saddle, then a wheel, handlebars, until soon all he’s left with is the bell. Despondent and decidedly puzzled, he wanders around, retrieving the missing components thanks to a list mysteriously left for him. The final shot of Yugo Saso, the star, pedaling down a busy city street, speaks volumes.
SPOKE, a new quarterly print mag devoted to all-things-cycling in Philly, and cineSPEAK, the non-profit group dedicated to alternative, independent, repertory and foreign language programming, are co-presenting Tour de Film – with bike parking and beer on tap. Friday, April 10, 6:30pm to 10pm, The Glass Factory, 1517 N. Bailey Street. Tickets $8 in advance, $10 at the door.