Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

Theeb 2014

Directed by Naji Abu Nowar World

Set in 1916, this suspenseful, historically freighted Jordanian film concerns a watchful young Bedouin obliged to guide a British officer through the spectacular desert of Wadi Rum. Best Foreign Language Oscar Nominee 2016.

Jordan / Qatar / UAE / UK In Arabic and English with English subtitles
100 minutes CinemaScope / DCP



Bassel Ghandour
Rupert Lloyd


Naji Abu Nowar
Bassel Ghandour


Wolfgang Thaler


Rupert Lloyd

Production designer

Anna Lavelle

Costume designer

Jamila Aladdin


Jerry Lane


Jacir Eid (Theeb)
Hassan Mutlag (stranger)
Hussein Salameh (Hussein)
Marji Audeh (Marji
the guide)
Jack Fox (Edward)


London 2014; New Directors/New Films
Sydney 2015


Best Director Horizons
Venice Film Festival 2014; Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Awards 2016


“Eye-searing landscapes and a fascinating historical setting turn this tale of innocence lost into a classic adventure film. First-time director, Oxford-born, Jordan-based Naji Abu Nowar, calls it a ‘Bedouin western’, and the honour and hospitality which his nomadic tribespeople value above all else informs Theeb first to last.

It’s the story of a British army officer at a desert encampment during WWI who orders young Bedouin boy Theeb (Jacir Eid) and his older brother Hussein (Hussein Salameh) to escort him on a perilous journey to the nearest waterhole. The events are seen from the child’s perspective, which might leave some viewers struggling to fill in the historical gaps (we’re in Lawrence of Arabia territory, with Arab tribes caught between the Brits and the Ottoman empire), but it does give the mounting peril even more heart-in-mouth intensity.” — Trevor Johnston, Time Out

“A lean survival picture set in the Ottoman province of Hijaz in the throes of the Great War, Theeb seems, as its perilous cross-desert adventure gets under way, to be a sand-lashed action-adventure epic… True, when the gunshots start cracking over the dunes, Theeb is galvanic in the classical style – but the difference is in the sensibility. Nowar, a smart, savvy filmmaker, keeps his focus narrow and the frame alert, eager to drink in not only action but nuances of culture and history. The civilized Englishman deigning to rescue primitive locals, the swarthy Arab conspiring only to swindle and kill: Theeb calls up the stereotypes of the desert epic only to flatly undermine them.” — Calum Marsh, Village Voice