Going for gold! Will Theeb nab Jordan their first Oscar?

Published September 9th, 2015 - 05:37 GMT

Award–winning Jordanian feature narrative “Theeb”, by director Naji Abu Nowar, is Jordan’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 88th Academy Awards, the Royal Film Commission (RFC) said Tuesday. The selection was made by a committee of Jordanian artists and craftspeople involved in the local art scene.

The RFC of Jordan organised the process as the country’s official submitting body for the Oscar. Telling a Bedouin story of brotherhood and betrayal set in Wadi Rum in 1916, “Theeb” fits the special rules of eligibility for the Foreign Language Film Award category, the commission said in a statement. It has been released commercially in Amman for six weeks. “Theeb” has also been commercially released in over 20 countries around the world and has participated in over 50 film festivals internationally.

Following the film's successful world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in 2014, Abu Nowar's directorial debut has been highly acclaimed by different audiences and critics around the world. It has won 13 prestigious international film awards, including: Best Director Award in Venice festival's Orizzonti (New Horizons) competition and the New Horizons’ Best Film from the Arab World Award and the FIPRESCI Award for Best Narrative Film at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

"Theeb" has also received a certificate of appreciation within the Prospects of Arab Cinema section at Cairo International Film Festival and Best Directorial Debut Award at the Directors’ Debuts Competition within the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography (CAMERIMAGE) in Poland.

Commenting on the nomination of the film, the selection committee's chairman, Adnan Awamleh, founder of Arab Telemedia, said: “'Theeb' has remarkable elements, be it the storyline or the cinematography or the direction. Its high standard brings Jordanian cinema to the world. And we wish the film all the success it deserves.” The committee also included director Mohammad Azzizieh, actress Nadera Omran, actor and comedian Nabil Sawalha, Munir Nassar (former tourism minister and executive board member on the Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association), film critic and journalist Najeh Hasan, actress and casting director Lara Atalla, and Samar Dudin (regional director and head of programmes for Ruwwad Al Tanmeya). In previous years, Jordan submitted “Captain Abu Raed” by Amin Matalqa and “Cherkess” by Mohyeddin Quandour for the same category.

A Jordanian short film — “Baheya and Mahmoud” by Zaid Abu Hamdan — qualified for the Oscar nomination back in 2012. Since its international debut in September 2014, “Theeb” has gained acclaim by critics and audiences all over the world and won 13 prestigious film festival awards, MAD Solutions, the film’s distributor, said in a statement released recently. Variety magazine also named Abu Nowar, who co-wrote the feature with Bassel Ghandour, as Arab Filmmaker of the Year in 2014.

“Theeb” has been commercially released in countries such as Iraq, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt and Switzerland. Filmed entirely in the Kingdom’s Southern Badia region, the feature “revolves around Theeb and his brother Hussein who abandon their tribe to go on a perilous journey during the beginning of the Great Arab Revolt”.

The cast included only one professional actor — Jack Fox of the UK as the British officer — while the other actors were from the local tribesmen of bedouin communities after they were given acting workshops during the eight months prior to principal photography.

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