Theeb gets a royal homecoming welcome from the Oscars

Published March 24th, 2016 - 03:00 GMT
Theeb's director Naji Abu Nowar presents the cast and crew to King Abdullah and Queen Rania, at a reception in their honor.  (Photo credit: Twitter/Royal Hashemite Court)
Theeb's director Naji Abu Nowar presents the cast and crew to King Abdullah and Queen Rania, at a reception in their honor. (Photo credit: Twitter/Royal Hashemite Court)

His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday voiced his pride in the international success of the Jordanian feature film “Theeb”, praising it as an exceptional, creative work of art. 

At a meeting with the cast and crew members of the Academy Award-nominated film, attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania, the King asserted that the film is a Jordanian success story and the latest in several achievements that Jordanians are proud of, according to a Royal Court statement.

Despite all the challenges facing Jordan, His Majesty said meeting with creative Jordanians lifts his spirits.

“Not only Jordan, but the entire Middle East is proud of you,” the King told the cast and crew, thanking them for their efforts. 

(Photo credit: Twitter/Royal Hashemite Court)

The film succeeded because the people of Wadi Rum participated in and supported it, he noted, calling for benefiting from the feature’s success to boost tourism.

“As we focus on the tourism industry, we should also focus on the film industry, not only in Wadi Rum but also in Wadi Araba,” the King added. 

He expressed his full support for success stories by creative Jordanians, calling for using events from Jordanian history in filmmaking.

“Theeb”, a coming-of-age tale set in the Arabian Desert of 1916, is the first Jordanian film to earn an Oscar nomination.

It follows Theeb, a young bedouin boy, and his brother Hussein as they leave the safety of their tribe to venture on a journey at the dawn of the Great Arab Revolt.

His Majesty spoke with the cast and crew about the prizes and the local, regional and global recognition that the film has gained. 

Since its release in international film festivals in August 2014, “Theeb”, directed and co-scripted by Naji Abu Nowar, has been screened in 25 countries, winning 21 awards, including Best Director at the Venice Film Festival.

Earlier in February, the Jordanian-British Abu Nowar and producer Robert Lloyd won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award for Outstanding Debut by British Writer, Director or Producer.

The cast and crew members thanked the King for the meeting, which, they said, reflects His Majesty’s support for Jordanians in all fields. 

(Photo credit: Twitter/Royal Hashemite Court)

In remarks to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, producer and co-writer Bassel Ghandour said the film’s success has made more international producers and directors interested in filming in Wadi Rum, some 328km south of Amman.

“Theeb” producers collaborated with Bedouin tribes to ensure the authentic depiction of life in the region. The cast was entirely formed from the local tribesmen of these communities after they were engaged in acting workshops prior to principal photography.

Ghandour said young people in the area are now more interested in participating in creative work.

Hassan Maraaiah, one of the lead actors, told Petra that the local community in his area is now more open to acting, noting that he has worked on projects by US and Canadian filmmakers after “Theeb”.

The film’s success, he added, has also attracted tourists to Jordan and Wadi Rum.

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