Denmark, Canada, 2018.
89 minuta
directed by: Christy Garland

“What Walaa Wants” is a documentary that is not only aimed at screening the tempest but that also provokes one. Ever since the Berlin International Film Festival and the special jury prize at Hot Docs festival, this story of an untamable girl, Walaa, has started drawing the attention of all world festivals

“What Walla Wants” represents a perfect and almost universal question raised by this surprising documentary. This is a question raised by many teenagers and at the same time it is also a question about them. This question does not have a unique, satisfying answer, because it comprises all - rebellion and love, rejection and acceptance, walking out and coming back at the same time. When these internal struggles and tempests are confronted with drastically different environment that is additionally burdened with constant violence and threats, this already bewildered girl turns into a volcano threatening to erupt any minute. By living in a ghetto that does not offer a way out, Walaa passionately admires what is actually related to violence, and, on top of that, is also regarded as some kind of heroism by her and her peers. Her mother, who is leaving jail, is one of her main role models. Walaa dreams of transforming her immense energy into a fierce fight for what represents the meaning of her life. However, the highest goal that she can reach is becoming a member of a special ghetto security unit, despite the strong disapproval of her close ones. As a result of these constant obstacles and prejudices, Walaa becomes a member of Special Police Unit and confronts an extremely demanding and cruel training aimed at keeping only the toughest and the most tenacious. This represents the beginning of a completely new and unexpected drama and real, tough fight for her.

For Christy Garland, the director and cinematographer, this exquisite documentary venture represented an uncertain, six-year-old adventure that started by observing the life of a rebellious 15-year-old girl in the Palestinian ghetto in the West coast. By using her camera to delve into the forbidden or never even filmed areas, this adamant author creates a story not only about a dramatic fight and the maturation of a girl who needs to beat herself in order to face the reality but also, above all, an impressive document about the contemporary world of turmoil and the young who live in it.


Christy Garland

The filmmaker who grew up in London, has been on the road filming, attending film festivals or in the edit room mostly non-stop for the last 15 years. Christy Garland has directed award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary features and fiction shorts. Based in Toronto, she often co‐produces with the Nordic countries. Distributed worldwide, Garland's films deliver strong dramatic development, poignant character transformation and universally felt themes.

Selected filmography

  • What Walaa Wants, 2018
  • Cheer Up, 2016
  • PThe Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song, 2012
  • Doormat, 2008