Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank while her mother was in prison, Walaa dreams of becoming a policewoman in the Palestinian Security Forces (PSF). Despite discouragement from her family, even her beloved brother Mohammed, Walaa applies and gets in. But her own rebellious behaviour and complicated relationship with her mother are challenging, as are the circumstances under which she lives.
Following Walaa from 15-21, with an intimate POV, What Walaa Wants is the compelling story of a defiant young girl navigating formidable obstacles, learning which rules to break and follow, and disproving the negative predictions from her surroundings and the world at large.
Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank while her mother was in an Israeli prison, Walaa is determined to become one of the few women in the Palestinian Security Forces—not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules. Following Walaa from the ages of 15 to 21 with an intimate POV, What Walaa Wants tells the compelling story of a defiant young girl who navigates formidable obstacles, disproving the negative predictions from her surroundings and the world at large.
Raised in a West Bank refugee camp while her mother was in prison, Walaa is determined to become a policewoman in the Palestinian Security Forces—not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules.
“She’s a delinquent in a hijab. If she does make it into the PSF, she’ll be a rotten, bad cop.”
That’s a pretty damning condemnation of a 16-year-old girl. I’d shown the trailer for What Walaa Wants to a colleague, and that was the reaction. That comment was a gift, a motivating force for the film, and a challenge to my own assumptions. It focused my rationale for making the film and my belief in Walaa. It made clear how polarizing this story of a young teenage girl might be. The presence of her mother, Latifa, will provoke very different reactions. But Walaa is a teenager with a good heart and the same potential for positive growth and change as any other young person.
I’m making this film because it’s a positive, humorous, rousing story, with a focus on a great female character with some rough edges who’s battling demons (and negative expectations) on various levels; an intimate story that will resonate in a larger context. Walaa’s story will add something to the conversation. She’s smart, funny, yearning for something, and vulnerable, but she’s inherited her mother’s temper and can be a royal pain in the ass. I love her for all of it, and I’m rooting for her as a human being, a girl who is interesting because she breaks rules, and because there are some rules she’s learning to follow, the hard way.
Walaa Khaled Fawzy Tanji
Latifa Abu Draa
Molly Malene Stensgaard
Janus Billeskov Jansen
Cinematography & Location Sound
Production Coordinator & Translator
Signe Byrge Sørensen
Anders V. Christensen
Kong Gulerod Film
FINAL CUT FOR REAL
NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA
IN ASSOCIATION WITH:
Doha Film Institute
Iambic Dream Films
WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF:
The ONTARIO MEDIA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
CAVCO – THE CANADIAN FILM OR VIDEO PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT
GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO FILM AND TELEVISION TAX CREDIT PROGRAM
Danish Film Institute
Danida (Danish Foreign Ministry)
Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund
with support from the Oath Foundation
Toronto Arts Council