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‘Theeb’ becomes first Jordanian film to receive Oscar nod

By Agencies - Jan 14,2016 - Last updated at Jan 15,2016

In this photo taken January 9, Jacir Eid, who plays the title character in 'Theeb', poses for a photo in Wadi Rum, in southern Jordan (AP photo by Raad Adayleh)

Jordanian coming-of-age tale "Theeb" made history on Thursday, becoming the first film from Jordan to receive an Oscar nomination.

Director Naji Abu Nowar's "bedouin-Western" is nominated for the foreign-language Academy Award alongside Danish Afghan-conflict drama "A War", Hungarian Holocaust story "Son of Saul" and Colombia's "Embrace of the Serpent".

"Theeb" producer and co-writer Bassel Ghandour told The Associated Press the crew members were "ecstatic, many in tears of joy" at the news.

"The bedouins are firing their rifles into the air, which is a traditional celebration," he said.

"We are so happy. This is a win for everyone in Jordan. It's a dream for everyone who worked on the film."

Set in the Arabian Desert of 1916, the feature follows Theeb (Jacir Eid), a young bedouin boy, and his brother Hussein as they leave the safety of their tribe to venture on a treacherous journey at the dawn of the Great Arab Revolt.

In other categories, pioneer-era drama "The Revenant" led the nominations with 12 nods, including best picture, according to Reuters.

George Miller's post-apocalyptic sequel "Mad Max: Fury Road" followed with 10 nominations, including best picture and best director for Miller. 

Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic "The Martian", which was partly shot in Jordan's Wadi Rum, landed seven nominations, including best picture and best actor for Matt Damon, AP reported.

"The Revenant", "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Martian", will vie with "The Big Short", "Bridge of Spies", "Brooklyn", "Room" and "Spotlight" for best picture, the highest honour in the film industry, Reuters reported.

"The Revenant" also landed nominations for lead actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, supporting actor for Tom Hardy and director for Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Inarritu, whose "Birdman" won the best picture Oscar a year ago.

Inarritu also won last year’s best director Oscar.

“We gave it our all on this film, and this appreciation from the Academy means a lot to me and my colleagues who made it possible,” Inarritu said in a statement. “Champagne and Mezcal will run tonight!”

The Oscars, voted on by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, can have up to 10 best picture nominees, but voters selected just eight this year. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and hip-hop movie “Straight Outta Compton” were among those not making the cut, Reuters reported.

Will Smith, who stars in football head-injury drama “Concussion,” and Idris Elba from “Beasts of No Nation” were among the black actors who were not nominated, as the acting categories were again filled entirely by white performers a year after the Oscars came under withering criticism over its lack of diversity..

“In a year with an extraordinary number of great performances by black actors that were embraced by audiences and embraced by critics, for them all to get ignored is tragic,” said Reginald Hudlin, who will produce the February 28 ceremony where the winners are announced. Comedian Chris Rock will host it.

The 2015 hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was quickly revived on Twitter on Thursday.

“Action needs to be taken to make sure that the industry as a whole is more inclusive with the hiring and the mentoring and the promoting of diverse product and diversity among filmmakers,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black.

DiCaprio and Damon will compete with Bryan Cranston in Hollywood blacklist tale “Trumbo,” Michael Fassbender as technology visionary “Steve Jobs” and Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in “The Danish Girl”.

In the best actress category, previous Oscar winners Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence return to the race this year.

Blanchett was nominated for her role in lesbian romance “Carol,” and Lawrence for playing the Miracle Mop inventor in “Joy”. They will compete against rising star Brie Larson for psychological thriller “Room”, Charlotte Rampling for British drama “45 Years” and Saoirse Ronan for Irish immigrant tale “Brooklyn”.

The best supporting actress nominees are Rooney Mara (“Carol”), Rachel McAdams (“Spotlight”), Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”), Jennifer Jason Leigh (“The Hateful Eight”) and Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs”), her seventh nod.

Sylvester Stallone, reprising his role as Rocky Balboa in “Creed”, looms large in the supporting actor category, according to AP. 

His stiffest competition is seen as Mark Rylance, best known for his stage work, for “Bridge of Spies”. Also nominated were Tom Hardy (“The Revenant”), Mark Ruffalo (“Spotlight ”) and Christian Bale (“The Big Short”).


Director Inarritu will face off with George Miller for “Mad Max”; Adam McKay for “The Big Short,” about the 2007 US financial collapse; Lenny Abrahamson for “Room”; and Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”, about the Boston Globe’s probe into child abuse by Catholic priests.

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