Widely hailed as one of the year’s best Canadian documentaries, Christy Garland’s extraordinary film introduces viewers to Walaa, a teenager raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank. Having essentially raised herself while her mother was imprisoned for her role in a thwarted suicide bombing, the headstrong girl is uncertain how to renew the relationship after her mother is released as part of a prisoner exchange. Though Walaa’s ambition to become a policewoman in the Palestinian Security Forces may give her the focus she so clearly needs in her life, the question of whether she can weather boot camp is a whole other matter. Shot over a six-year period, WHAT WALAA WANTS benefits from the astonishing level of intimacy achieved between filmmaker and subject. Along with a spot on Canada’s Top Ten, the Toronto-based Garland won a special jury prize at Hot Docs for a film that presents a surprising view of life in a very complicated corner of the world.
Christy Garland is based in Toronto, but has been working a lot in the Nordic countries. After graduating film school, she got her start working on THE KIDS IN THE HALL as a production assistant, which led to work as an assistant director on many American features and television shows that were shooting in Toronto. Throughout her work as an assistant director, Garland continued to make short films before moving on to documentary. Her award-winning feature documentary THE BASTARD SINGS THE SWEETEST SONG was a Canadian/Danish co-production and premiered at Hot Docs and Sheffield DocFest in 2012.