Oscars: Jordan Selects 'Theeb' for Foreign-Language Category

Courtesy of Biennale di Venezia

The acclaimed WWI-set drama, which bowed in Venice in 2014, comes from first timer Naji Abu Nowar.

Jordan, which has long served as a swooping desert backdrop for a host of Oscar-winning epics, has put forward its own entry into the race for the next Academy Award for best foreign-language film.

Theeb, the historic drama from first-time feature director Naji Abu Nowar that premiered in Venice last year, has been nominated by the Middle East country as the Oct. 1 deadline for entries into the category draws near.

Shot in the vast sandstone valley of Wadi Rum, Theeb is set in 1916 and tells the story of a young Bedouin boy struggling for survival in the midst of WWI as Ottoman forces fight to keep a grip on their crumbling empire. For numerous reasons, it has drawn comparisons with Lawrence of Arabia and won praise for its young cast and helmer, who was awarded the best director prize in Venice last year.

The film, which was made with support from Abu Dhabi's Sanad fund (it won the best Arab film honor there last year) and the Doha Film Institute, went on to launch commercially across the Arab world and Europe. Film Movement has the U.S. rights.