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Big screen return


A film inspired by the Bedouin lifestyle makes its UAE cinema debut


It’s been almost five years since Jordan-based director Naji Abu Nowar unveiled his short film Death of a Boxer at the Dubai International Film Festival.

Now his feature film, Theeb, will be screened in the UAE after making the rounds of film festivals abroad.

The movie tells the story of two brothers from a Bedouin tribe during the Ottoman Empire. When their father dies, the eldest son, Hussein, tries to teach the Bedouin lifestyle to his youngest brother, Theeb. The arrival of a British officer sets them on a coming-of-age journey as they embark on a dangerous voyage to guide the officer to a secret destination.

We sit down with the director to find out more about how he got into directing and what inspired him to shoot Theeb.


How old were you when you began dabbling in films?

I tried recreating scenes from Western, kung fu
and action films when I was ten years old. When I was about 13, I attempted making a 30-minute feature film – it was a rip-off of Reservoir Dogs.


How would you describe your directing style?

I think you can only answer that after having made several films. I run more on instinct at the moment. I’m sure I’ll start seeing a pattern with the way I work in the future.


What inspired Theeb?

I always wanted to make a Bedouin-Western type of film. When I read my co-writer Bassel Ghandour’s script, I knew I had found a way to do it. The story really comes from our time spent with the Bedouin community.


How long did it take to produce the film?

It took five weeks to shoot the film and two years in post-production because we had very little money.


How different is this from Death of a Boxer?

The approach was similar in the sense that both films were inspired by real people and community. This time, however, I learned the importance of workshops to develop the talents of the amateur actors after the mistakes I made with Death of a Boxer. I felt I could have given more in that film, acting-wise.


Does this film reflect your personality?

It’s certainly not autobiographical. But we all know the feeling of fear, loss or pain, and we reveal that in different ways. Obviously, the film speaks about my preferred taste in cinema. But I love other genres too and one film doesn’t define a director.

Theeb opens in cinemas across the UAE on 19th March. To find out more visit www.facebook.com/TheebFilm

Ferdinand Godinez


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