Jordanian film “Theeb” bagged three awards at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival
Filmed in part in Wadi Rum, "Theeb" made it big at ADFF. (Image: Facebook)
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After being screened to great acclaim in Europe and North America, Jordanian feature “Theeb” bagged three more awards this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, where the movie had its Middle East premiere.
At the festival’s award ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Friday night, the Bedouin Western won Best Film from the Arab World award within the New Horizons competition, according to the festival’s website.
“Theeb” also bagged the FIPRESCI Prize for best narrative feature.
The award is presented in collaboration between the International Federation of Film Critics and the European Film Academy and focuses on Arab Films competing in the Abu Dhabi festival’s Narrative Feature, New Horizons and Documentary Feature sections.
Earlier last week, the film’s director and co-writer, Naji Abu Nowar, was officially honoured as Variety’s Arab Filmmaker of the Year at a reception held by the US-based film industry magazine and the festival’s organisers.
Variety said Nowar “has helped spotlight Jordan — not for outside crews seeking spectacular locations — but for local talent telling local stories”.
In an interview with the UK-born director in mid-October, the magazine described “Theeb” as “a stunning, intimate epic set in a bedouin community during the Arab Revolt… presenting a society on the cusp of change and tipping its hat to classic Westerns even in the way it toys with questions of moral absolutes”.
Set in Wadi Rum in 1916, the 100-minute feature follows Theeb (Jacir Eid), an orphaned boy who lives with his brother Hussein (Hussein Salameh) “in a forgotten corner of the Ottoman Empire”, according to the film’s synopsis.
The siblings’ lives “are interrupted with the arrival of a British army officer and his guide on a mysterious mission”, and Theeb finds himself forced to make choices that teach him about adulthood and survival.
Abu Nowar and the rest of the film crew spent over a year in the Southern Badia to shoot the movie, selecting and training a cast of amateurs from the local community.
The cast included only one professional actor — Jack Fox of the UK as the British officer.
The film’s screening in Abu Dhabi followed its showing at the Mumbai Film Festival and the 58th BFI London Film Festival, where it received an honourable mention at the awards.
It was also screened at the Venice and Toronto international film festivals, winning the Orizzonti Award for Best Director in Venice.
“Theeb” was co-written by Bassel Ghandour, who is also the producer along with Rupert Lloyd.
Nadine Toukan, whose previous work includes acclaimed local films “Captain Abu Raed” and “When Monaliza Smiled”, is the executive producer, while Nasser Kalaji and Laith Majali are co-producers.
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