Haifaa al-Mansour wrote and directed the feature length Saudi film. It is culturally significant as she became the first Saudi female to direct a feature length picture, and Wadja is the first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. The film received backing from Rotana, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's production company in order to shoot all of the film in Saudi Arabia. al-Mansour was able to secure additional foreign financing after being selected to attend the Sundance Lab in Jordan. This allowed the film to gain further reach as the Saudi film industry is nearly nonexistent and there are no movie theaters in the country.
A notable influence on the writer/director is Bicycle Thieves which follows a similar plot line. Vittorio De Sica directed the Italian neorealism picture and paved the way for al-Mansour to create her film as neorealism ushered in independent film-making by lowering costs of production by not using sets, using daylight to light scenes and hiring actors that weren't major stars (some were non-professional actors).
The film has gone on to critical acclaim. It was selected as Saudi Arabia's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Though it was not nominated by the Academy it did received a BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Film in 2014. Most importantly, Wadjda is a film that by being created lifts the people of Saudi Arabia, in particular its women. al-Mansour, a female director creating real-life in Saudi allows for a pathway to a greater voice for her people and the women of Saudi Arabia.