Naji Abu Nowar
Directed by Naji Abu Nowar
“A classic adventure film of the best kind, and one that’s rarely seen these days.” Variety
In this striking “mid-Eastern Western” Jordanian first-time Director Naji Abu Nowar crafts a beautiful desert drama of adventure, betrayal and trust. 1916 – In the remote Ottoman province of Hijaz during World War I, a young boy, Theeb (”Wolf” in Arabic) lives peacefully with his Bedouin tribe. One night the Bedouin nomads are visited by a British officer, Edward, on a mission to disrupt the Ottoman Hijaz Railway. Theeb’s older brother, Hussein agrees to guide the Brit through the ‘badlands’ of the Wadi Rum rocky desert that is infested with bandits. Theeb, seeking adventure, tags along, and before long is confronted with dangers that thrusts him into manhood. Naji Abu Nowar carefully chose Bedouin non-professionals to play all but the British soldier, and work-shopped with them for 8 months before shooting, resulting in extraordinary performances by Jacir Eid as Theeb, Hussein Salameh as his brother Hussein and especially Hassan Mutlag as The Stranger. In 1916 the Ottoman Empire is waning after a rule of 400 years. The Ottomans are assaulted by revolutionaries of the Great Arab Revolt (1916 – 1918) which was aided by the British, including T.E. Lawrence. Naji Abu Nowar spent a year in the Wadi Rum, Jordan’s imposing landscape living with and learning the customs of nomadic Bedouins. (Wadi Rum is also known as the Valley of the Moon, not to be confused with Northern California’s Jack London country of the same name). Bedouin tradition percolates throughout “Theeb” starting from the opening prophetic poem of the boy’s father extolling brotherhood, hospitality, caution and courage to the authentic drinking skins the travelers use to gather water from the desert wells. Influenced by Kurosawa and Sergio Leone, first time director Abu Nowar sure-handedly sculpts a near-perfect film that portends more great art in the future. “Theeb” can be seen as a cross-genre western, road movie, historical, coming of age drama. Wolfgang Thaler’s luscious widescreen cinematography of desert / canyon vistas and chiaroscuro fire-lit night scenes adds painterly pleasure to the viewing experience. The music by Jerry Lane draws upon Bedouin melodies embellished with Western orchestration.
One of the highest rated films on Rotten Tomatoes with 97% positive. Academy Award Oscar™ Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film; Best Director, Venice International Film Festival.Stephen Ashton in “The Desert Sun”
Naji Abu Nowar (born 1981) is a British-Jordanian film director, writer and producer. Theeb, his first feature, received wide spread acclaim and recognition, including a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at 88th Academy Awards, the BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer at the 69th British Academy Film Awards. Theeb is the first Jordanian film to receive an Oscar nomination.When Abu Nowar was 10 years old, his family moved to Jordan where he became fascinated by the Bedhouin tales he would hear. He later returned to England to complete his A Levels and attend King’s College London, and returned to Amman, Jordan in 2004.Abu Nowar was invited by King Abdullah and Queen Rania to Al Husseiniya Palace, for an event in which the attendees were praised for their entrepreneurship and good citizenship.
Screenplay: Naji Abu Nowar, Bassel Ghandour
Cinematography: Wolfgang Thaler
Editing: Rupert Lloyd
Music: Jerry Lane