Here are some powerful Jordanian filmmakers who have gained more respect than ever in the past few years, for their bold and striking films in the cinematic world. Sharing their ideals, inspirations, hopes, and dreams through the intelligence of their scripts, these local talents have been able to successfully capture the heart of their viewers quite admirably.
These local talents quite naturally exhibit classically sensible narratives, themes, and picturesque films that have transcended boundaries to become internationally recognized.
Naji Abu Nowar
Nowar’s film Theeb earned Jordan its first-ever Best Foreign International Film of the Year, and its very first Oscar nomination in 2016. To get a sense of how outstanding this accomplishment is, Theeb also received the BAFTA film award for Outstanding Debut by a director, the FIPREACI Prize at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival for Best Narrative Film. It also went as far as to receive the award for Best Picture by a New Director at the Beijing International Film Festival and much much more.
Telling the story of a coming of age young Bedouin boy in Wadi Rum, the film has captivated viewers and enjoyed critically acclaimed screenings worldwide. Now currently residing in U.K., Nowar has certainly shed a spotlight on Jordan and familiarized those overseas to its diverse and local talents.
A film writer, director, and documentary filmmaker, Najwa is known for depicting resistance and survival and challenging the misconceived stereotypes within the Arab world. She presents these themes to represent where she comes from through a transparent and simplified approach.
Her award-winning films include Yasmine’s Song, Eyes of a Thief, and Pomegranates and Myrrh which received 10 international awards and was screened at over 80 international festivals. Showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Najwa is also a jury member and speaker at numerous film festivals abroad.
Amin Matalqa has been casting his mark in Los Angeles for the past 15 years. Immediately after receiving his MFA in directing from the American Film Institute in 2008, he travelled to Jordan where he wrote, directed, and produced his first feature film Captain Abu Raed.
Unsurprisingly, the awe-inspiring film of an old Jordanian airport janitor, Captain Abu Raed went on to win the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival along with numerous international festival awards. The film also became recognized as it was Jordan’s first-ever film to be submitted for an Oscar nomination.
Known for her highly acclaimed short film, Horizon, Zain raises awareness on equality and women’s rights by placing her viewers in a patriarchal society where an illiterate woman’s husband tries to enforce his idea of taking their kids out of school to help him with work.
Horizon screened at numerous international film festivals and received the Audience Choice Award at the Franco-Arab Film Festival in 2013. The film attracted major attention worldwide, but also helped distinguish Zain within the wide filmmaking crowd as she graciously considers herself a pro equalist rather than a feminist. What makes Zain impeccably fascinating is that Horizon works as a transparent element to who she is and what she believes boldly in. Truly inspired by her surroundings, Zain showcases that aspect in her films whilst educating her viewers all at the same time.
Nominated for Best Feature Film at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2011 for her film, A 7 Hour Difference, Deema catapults her audiences to the striking yet complex world of love in the Arab world. Living in the U.S., the protagonist of the film Dalia travels to Amman to attend her sister’s wedding, when to her surprise her boyfriend Jason shows up to propose to her. The problem here is: her family doesn’t know yet and like any Arab girl, there’s bound to be complications that pop up.
A 7 Hour Difference received Best International Feature at the Manhattan Film Festival and the Jury Special Award at the Malmo Arab Film Festival in 2011.