Naji Abu Nowar, a Jordanian filmmaker and director, won the Orizzonti Award for Best Director at the 71st Venice Film Festival. The Orizzonti section is dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema. Abu Nowar is the first Jordanian director to win an award at a major film festival.
The film was shot in Wadi Rum, the desert located in southern Jordan where the production team cast a number of actors from the local Bedouin tribes. The expansive Jordanian desert witnessed several film shootings since 1962, including Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole. But this is the first time the local Bedouins play main roles in the casting.
Abu Nowar’s first film, entitled Theeb — which means wolf in Arabic — is a full-length narrative feature set in 1916 during the Great Arab Revolt, starring Jacir Eid, Hussein Salameh, Marji Audeh, and the British actor Jack Fox, who played the role of an English soldier.
Eid, the film’s main protagonist is a young Bedouin boy, who has to grow up fast to survive practically alone in the desert. Writer-director Abu Nowar, who wrote the impressively streamlined screenplay with Bassel Ghandour, kept the cast very small, allowing Theeb to interact with just a handful of people throughout the film.
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