At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Inshara A Boy.

Co-written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Amjad Al-Rashid, this powerful tale of family conflict is the first Jordanian film to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival.

“It was great news,” admitted Al Rasheed, who met on the beachside terrace. “Cannes is just big. It’s the most important festival on the planet. It’s the perfect place to present my first feature film.”

Needless to say, the reaction in Jordan has been very positive.

“I had a lot of support, especially from the film world. Before I came to Cannes, I was interviewed on a local channel and they made me feel like a national hero. It felt so good.”

Even better, after debuting in this festival’s Critics’ Week category, the reviews were paper screen international Praised the film for its “fresh portrayal of complicated family relationships”.

Born in 1985, Al Rasheed graduated from the now-defunct Red Sea Institute of Cinema and Arts 13 years ago with a master’s degree.Since then he has spent the last six years making shorts Inshara A Boy off the ground.

“I found it frustrating at first,” he says, but he clearly had a good time.

The film delves into the nuances of Jordanian family law with a touching story that begins with Nawal (Mouna Hawa), a mother of one, who suddenly becomes a widow. Based on her local inheritance decree, she discovered that her late husband’s wider family was entitled to her estate because she had previously given birth to a daughter rather than a son. In her predicament she pretends to be her pregnant.

“I wanted to tell this story because it is a personal story for me,” says Al Rasheed. “This is a story inspired by a very close relative of mine who was in much the same situation as my main character.”

Al Rasheed has not told his relatives that he was the model for the story.

“She doesn’t know. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. [but] I never said I was inspired by her. “

will she guess?

“Let’s see! It doesn’t matter because it’s inspired by different stories of women in society. She was the catalyst.”

So how does he see the current situation of women in Jordan?

“I think it is the same in the Arab world. Women have no equality and no rights. “We must question these actions. How can we build this society when half the population suffers from inequality? These laws govern their freedom and their lives.” I think we need to rethink these behaviors and the way women are treated if we are to build our society for the better.”

For the production of this film, director al-Rasheed is backed by determined Jordanian female producers Lula Nasser and Asir Abu Ayyash, who have both worked on the controversial Iranian film. Holy spider, which was performed at Cannes last year. But as the director points out, the film is not just about women’s rights in our immediate surroundings.

“I think this is similar to other things around the world – equal pay for women in Europe and the West. It’s not just about Jordan and the Arab world. I just wanted people to think.”

Al Rasheed is bracing now, waiting to see how the film will be received in Jordan.

“Our industry is a young industry, and there are not many movies yet. So now, with this wave of movies happening in Jordan, people in Jordan, audiences, are finding it difficult to look at themselves in the mirror. I feel, they are sensitive to all kinds of topics, so this is where it gets tricky.”

He cites two recent films, an underworld thriller set in Amman directed by Bassel Gandur. alley and of Zayd Abu Hamdan Daughters of Abdurrahman.

“These two films are good films,” says Al Rasheed. “It was very well received at the festival. Some people thought that.”

in the case of alleya more conservative member of the Jordanian parliament, also criticized the film for using abusive and profane themes.

Inshara A BoyOf course, anonymous online criticism is not taken into account, but it deserves full acceptance, especially in the context of its screening at Cannes.

“I hope it will be well received,” Al Rasheed shrugged. “I had no expectations. and to make people think.”

Perhaps the greatest praise that can be given to this film is that it deserves comparison with the award-winning film of Asghar Farhadi. separationsaw the couple navigate Byzantine-era Iranian divorce laws. Al Rasheed is familiar with Farhadi’s work.

“I am definitely influenced by Iranian cinema,” he says, though he never intended to imitate the Iranian masters. “In this film, it’s my voice. .”

behind the Inshara A BoyFollowing the success of , he is already working on his next project.

“I’m in the early stages of development,” he says. “I feel very strongly about it.”

After a long development process, Inshara A Boy — with support from the Red Sea Film Foundation, Doha Institute, Cairo Film Festival and more — he now knows what to expect.

“It’s an independent film, part of this cycle of production. I hope the next one doesn’t take too long,” he says.

Whatever happens, he will always hold the honor of being the first director to submit a Jordanian film to the Cannes Film Festival.

The Cannes Film Festival runs until Saturday.

Updated: May 26, 2023, 3:03 AM

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