Special Screening, DFI Cinema
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1916, in a small Bedouin encampment in the Hejaz region of the Arabian desert, young Theeb and his elder brother Hussein go about their daily lives, watering the camels, learning to shoot rifles and horsing about with each other. Meanwhile, the First World War is consuming Europe, the Ottoman Empire is disintegrating, and the Arab Revolt is about to change life on the Arabian peninsula forever.
When a mysterious British soldier arrives at the camp in search of the boys’ father, a late sheikh, Hussein is obliged by the Bedouin code of hospitality to honour the man’s request to be taken to an ancient well situated on the route to Mecca. Unwilling to be left behind, Theeb follows the men in secret – only to find that he is on a far more significant journey than he ever could have imagined.
Employing a cast made up almost entirely of non-professional Bedouin actors, director Naji Abu Nowar organically creates an affecting coming-of-age story inflected with the epic scope of a classic Western. The result is a wonderful celebration of the astonishing beauty of the Arabian desert (the film is shot in Wadis Rum and Araba) and of a way of life that has been all but forgotten.