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What Walaa Wants


Raised in the largest refugee camp in the West Bank while her mother was in prison, Walaa dreams of being a policewoman, wearing a uniform, avoiding marriage, and earning a salary. Despite warnings that ‘no women should be in the army’ and that she’ll bring shame on the family, she applies – and gets in. But her own rebellious behaviour and a complicated relationship with her mother are a challenge, as are the circumstances under which she lives. Following Walaa from 15 to 21, this first-ever look inside the Palestinian police academy brings us the story about a young woman navigating formidable obstacles.


  • Variety
    A classic coming-of-age story with a girl-power message, about a bullheaded Palestinian girl who decides to become a police officer.
    Jay Weissberg
  • POV Magazine
    Walaa is a force. The immensity of her presence is undeniable. In a world that continues to dehumanize and victimize Palestinian people, reducing lives to numbers without names or stories, it is refreshing to see a film that portrays such a proud, resilient, young Palestinian woman. You will remember Walaa.
    Amy Siegel
    Always at eye-level with her young protagonist, Garland creates an intimate portrait of a rebellious girl who follows her dream, sometimes out of control, but always persistent. A great documentary.

Festival Participation

  • Berlinale - 2018
  • Hot Docs - 2018
    DGC Special Jury Prize - Canadian Feature Documentary
  • Vancouver IFF - 2018
    Women in Film + TV Artistic Merit Award
  • DOK.fest München - 2018
  • Vancouver IFF - 2018
  • Forest City FF - 2018
    Best Documentary Feature
  • Ajyal FF - 2018
    Hilal Award for Best Film

Additional Materials

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