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‘Theeb’ shortlisted for best foreign language film Oscar

By JT - Dec 19,2015 - Last updated at Dec 19,2015

Jacir Eid and Hussein Salameh in a still from ‘Theeb’ (Photo courtesy of Bayt Al Shawareb/Noor Pictures/Immortal Entertainment)

AMMAN — Jordanian coming-of-age tale "Theeb" has been shortlisted for the Oscars' best foreign language film category, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced late last week.

The "bedouin Western" movie by director and co-writer Naji Abu Nowar's first feature film was selected out of 80 contenders from around the world.

"Theeb", which was filmed entirely in the Southern Badia, is one of only two shortlisted films not from Europe — the second being Colombian feature "Embrace of the Serpent".  

The other selected movies are from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary and Ireland.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2015 are being determined in two phases, according to the Oscars' official website.

The "Phase I committee", consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 14.  

"The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist," the academy said.

The shortlist will be reduced to the category’s five nominees by "specially invited committees" in New York, Los Angeles and London.  

"They will spend Friday, January 8, through Sunday, January 10, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots," the academy added.

The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced on January 14, 2016.

In late November, "Theeb" won the Grand Prize at Festival International Du Cinéma De Dakhla in Morocco, bagging the 15th international award, the feature's distributor, MAD Solutions, said in a statement.

The 100-minute feature has been screened in 12 countries and premiered in the United States in November. ART network has also begun airing the film exclusively on its screens since November 22, according to the distributor.

The film’s producers collaborated with the bedouin tribes to ensure the authentic depiction of life in the region. The cast was entirely formed from the local tribesmen of these communities, who have lived in the area for hundreds of years, after they were engaged in acting workshops in the eight months prior to principal photography.

Co-scripted with Bassel Ghandour, the film is set in the Arabian Desert of 1916. 

It follows Theeb, 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.

“If Theeb is to survive, he must quickly learn about adulthood, trust and betrayal,” a statement from the distributor said.

The film stars young Jacir Eid as Theeb, opposite Hussein Salameh, Hassan Mutlag, Marji Audeh and Jack Fox, the only professional actor on the cast.

The crew included Wolfgang Thaler, an award-winning Austrian director of photography, British composer Jerry Lane and British production designer Anna Lavelle.

The film was edited by Rupert Lloyd.

Ghandour’s Bayt Al Shawareb, in association with Lloyd’s Noor Pictures produced the film, in co-production with Nasser Kalaji and Laith Majali’s Immortal Entertainment.

 

Nadine Toukan — the producer of acclaimed Jordanian features such as “Captain Abu Raed” and “When Monaliza Smiled” — is the executive producer.

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