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Theeb: An Adventure Tale from the Past and a Leap for the Arab Cinema

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Theeb: An Adventure Tale from the Past and a Leap for the Arab Cinema


Arab cinema has witnessed some previous attempts of producers and filmmakers to make films that can break into the international filmmaking scene. Most recently, there have been various Arabic films that successfully left a mark on the international film events; the last of which is Naji Abu NawarÂ’s Theeb that managed to attract audiences all over the world.

Theeb was well-received by audiences across 16 countries with elongated stand ovations and sold-out screenings. The first Arabic film with multiple award-winning festival participations, Theeb delves into the forgotten sand dunes of Arab modern history. The film has always been linked to Hollywood's blockbuster Lawrence of Arabia in the 1960s owing to their similar atmosphere and setting; however Theeb is an enthralling tale that lively highlights the Bedouins' lives and traditions in the open space of the desert.

Theeb takes place during World War I, in a forgotten corner of the Ottoman Empire, through the British officer who has recourse to one of the Bedouin tribes in the Jordanian desert to reach Al Sharif HusseinÂ’s rebels who revolted against the Ottoman Empire. In distinctive scenes the film refers to the change that has hit the nomads after the establishment of a train line barrier (Hejaz- Railway) and the turning of the pilgrim caravan operators; the tribesmen who used to lead the pilgrimage convoys, into bandits.

With a largely amateur cast drawn from the local Bedouin tribes in their first time in front of cameras, Naji Abu NawarÂ’s Theeb was enriched with their spontaneous performance that added authenticity to the depiction of the Bedouin culture. The film made an instant impact on Venice Film FestivalÂ’s juries scooping the Orizzonti Award for Best Director also, Best Directorial Debut from The International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography (Camerimage) Toruń, Poland, the Main Award and Best Script at the 43rd Belgrade International Film Festival (FEST) along with several Arab and international awards and critical acclaims worldwide.

Commercially released in 8 Arab countries, Theeb has been paving the way to the distribution of Arabic films within the Arab world, recording a successful model unifying the Arab film market and going beyond the borders of local dialects and relying on local film productions only.