From Wadi Rum to Italy: Jordanian "Theeb" to be the wolf of Venice Film Festival

Published July 24th, 2014 - 11:31 GMT

Illustrating a young boy's journey through the infinite sand dunes of Wadi Rum and the Great Arab Revolt, Jordan's own "Theeb" (Ababic for wolf) will be howling its way across international screenings. 

The 71st annual Venice International Film Festival has selected the feature-length film for its Orizzonti Competition next month.

Set in the Arabian Desert of 1916, the film follows Theeb, a young Bedouin boy and his elder brother Hussein, as they leave the safety of their tribe to venture on a treacherous journey at the dawn of the Great Arab Revolt. To survive, Theeb must navigate through adulthood, trust and betrayal, learning as he goes.

What makes "Theeb" unique is not only its original storyline, but its hyper-locality to Jordan. Jordanian filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar chose the picturesque Wadi Rum and Wadi Araba deserts as backgrounds. But he also included the desert valleys' local Bedouin communities in an entirely new way — as actors. 

Aside from lead actors Jacir Eid, Hassan Mutlag and Hussein Salameh, the film's cast is made up entirely of local tribesmen, who were given acting workshops during the eight months prior to principal photography.

Truly, "Theeb" is a Jordanian project. And now, it's headed to the world-famous Venice screens. 

Founded in 1932, the Venice International Film Fetival is the oldest and among the most prestigious in the world. It has shown the works of some of the most noteworlthy filmmakers, from Akira Kurosawa to Stanley Kubrick.

But "Theeb" is not the first of Nowar's films to recieve international festival recognition. 

While this is his flagship feature film, he also wrote and produced the 2009 short, "Death of A Boxer."  The short has seen success of its own since then, screening at several festivals including the Palm Springs International Shortfest, the Dubai International Film Festival, the Miami Short Film Festival and the Franco-Arab Film Festival.

"Theeb" will have its world premiere next month during the festival's Orizzonti section, a competition for films that employ nuanced and unique cinematic trends. You can follow and keep up with the film's news on its Facebook and Twitter pages below:

Twitter: @TheebFilm


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