Encouraged by an Orizzonti Best Director award won at the 71st Venice Film Festival, the first international award for Jordanian cinema, observers predict director Naji Abu Nowar’s long narrative “Theeb” could achieve a sweeping success at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (from 23 October to 1 November 2014).
Abu Nowar, born to an English mother and a Jordanian father, had previously been named 2014’s best Arab director by Variety magazine. His first cinematic experiment was in 2009 through a short movie, Death of a Boxer, which screened at several international festivals.
In “Theeb,” Abu Nowar navigates through a charming environment at the Jordanian desert, specifically at Wadi Rum, going back to 1916 during the World War I, when the battle was heating between the Ottoman empire and Britain. The film tells the story of Theeb, a young Bedouin who loses his father, the tribe’s chief, and is brought up by his elder brother, Hussein.
A British soldier comes to the tribe one day, asking for a guide; the Bedouins recommend Hussein. Theeb goes after his brother without the latter’s knowledge. Hussein gets killed in the middle of the conflict that was raging at the area, pitting Arab revolutionaries, Ottoman mercenaries and Bedouins. He decides to seek revenge
A positive asset for the movie was its reliance on real characters from the Bedouin environment, thus ensuring more credibility, realism and spontaneity in the actors’ performance. The political depiction in the movie was obviously inferior compared to the focus on Bedouin life
Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Abu Nowar said his movie is the by-product of efforts that lasted for four years in search for financing and in preparation. He said the reactions the film drew at the festival’s multi-cultural attendance encourage him to produce more works that reflect the aspirations of average people.
Abu Nowar added that the Jordanian setting added an element of beauty to his film, besides the account it gives to historical changes both on the short and long term.
Jacir Eid, who played the character of Theeb, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that he had not encountered any problems in his first acting experience, thanks to Abu Nowar who gave them the total freedom in performance. He said that fact made their trace vivid on the script that was a mixture of improvised and written sentences.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm