It’s always an honor when the Arab nations are put on the entertainment map, and we’ve had some great independent films released from the region over the past decade. This year, Jordan has something to be proud of! It has recently been announced that the SANAD funded film, Theeb, has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Theeb, directed by Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar, was selected along with four international titles, three being from European nations Denmark, Hungary and France and one from the Latin American nation of Columbia, making the cut out of a total of 82 international films that were originally submitted to the Oscars’ foreign film category. This alone is something to be proud of, as well as the fact that this is the first Jordanian film nominated for such an award! And to top it off, Theeb was selected out of the seven Arab films that were considered for the 88th Academy Awards, three of which were funded by SANAD, Abu Dhabi’s film fund powered by twofour54.
In addition to the obvious support we feel towards our Jordanian counterparts for receiving such an honor, this achievement should pose as a pivotal moment in entertainment history for the MENA region as a whole since the nomination comes as a testament to the impact Arab filmmakers are making in the international film industry. By being nominated, the world is recognizing the talent our filmmakers have, and are outwardly expressing their interest in our culture and the stories we have to tell. Moreover, the achievement that the Abu Dhabi based film funder SANAD has made by succeeding in supporting Arab talent to advance to high caliber events such as the Oscars should not go unnoticed.
Theeb, (Arabic for “Wolf”), initially premiered at the 2014 Abu Dhabi film festival and tells the story of a playful 11-year-old Bedouin boy of the same name who gets caught up in his tribe’s alliance with the British against Ottoman rulers during the era’s Arab Revolt. The story, set in 1916, captures the era of Arab/Ottoman history beautifully, and creates a soul-capturing narrative that illustrates the start of 20th century hegemony between east and west, while crooning quietly of Orientalist overtures. Despite the fact, it is a film that Edward Said himself would be proud of. The film is mostly in Arabic, and stars Jacir Eid Al-Hweitat as the loveable hero. It was shot in Jordan in notable areas such as Wadi Rum, Wadi Araba, and about 70 km south of Amman, the temperate nation’s capital. What’s even more special about the filming of Theeb is that the general area for shooting was the same area in which David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia was shot. This sentiment ties in with similar historic themes between the two movies, and while Lawrence of Arabia is critically acclaimed, it’s safe to say that with Theeb’s accomplishment of winning more than 25 awards worldwide since its Venice Film festival premiere, nominations for two BAFTA awards under the Best Film Not in the English Language category and the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category, this film is on its way to critical acclaim as well. Talk about a lucky piece of land!
So what are you waiting for? This film definitely seems like it’s a winner, and even if it doesn’t win, it’s a film that seems to be worth watching.