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Jordanian filmmaker Amjad Al-Rasheed discusses his country̵7;s first Cannes entry, ‘Inshallah a Boy’

Amman: At the age of 38, Jordanian filmmaker Amjad Al-Rashid has created history. This month, his debut film, “Inshallah a Boy”, became the first Jordanian film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival – world cinema’s most prestigious event.

As well as feeling “very proud and excited”, Al-Rasheed also felt the stress of “a great responsibility” to represent his country and the wider Arab world at Cannes, he attended two screenings of the film in French. told Arab News days later. Festival.

“Inshallah a Boy” – a co-production between Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – may be Al-Rasheed’s first feature as director, but it has been a long time in the making, going back to his childhood. Is.

Amjad Al-Rasheed is a Jordanian film producer. (supply)

“When I was 12 years old, I was watching a black-and-white film (starring) Omar Sharif and Fateen Hamama. My mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him that I wanted to become a director. She was smiling – I didn’t understand what a director was, but I knew it was some storyteller,” he said. “I wanted to tell stories since childhood.”

Al-Rasheed’s telling of the story “Inshallah a Boy” (which he co-wrote with Roula Nasser and Delphine Agut and was filmed using an entire Jordanian crew, in addition to the Japanese director of photography) is a striking, Although not particularly happy, a. At its heart is recently widowed Nawal (Mouna Hawa), a nurse living in a low-income East Amman neighborhood whose husband Adnan dies suddenly in his sleep. The only asset he leaves behind is a pickup, which Adnan’s brother Rifki (Haitham Omari) insists on selling so that he can get back some of Adnan’s money.

Over the course of the film, Rifki becomes more and more impatient, even taking Nawal to court to resolve his financial claims. Feeling betrayed, and with no real support from her own brother, Naval stops Rifki by claiming she is pregnant. Had she had a son, Rifki would have had no claim on Adnan’s property, including the apartment in which Naval lives with his daughter Nora. He is assisted by Lauren (Yumna Marwan), daughter of Nawal’s boss Christian employer Saud (Salwa Nakkara). Lauren is constantly complaining about her unfaithful husband, and decides she wants to terminate her pregnancy. Nawal agrees to accompany Lauren to a clinic in eastern Amman where they will perform an abortion, and in return receives documents from Lauren that Nawal is pregnant – thus keeping Rifki at bay for at least nine months.

3 mouna hawa and haitam omari in inshallah a boy

Mouna Hawa and Haitam Omari in “Inshallah a Boy”. (supply)

Apart from tackling thorny social issues such as abortion, the poverty gap between East Amman and prosperous West Amman, inequality in inheritance rights, and the ‘expected’ behavior of single women, the film also tackles dysfunctional family dynamics: reveals Naval It is believed that Adnan resigned from his job without explanation four months before his death, following a quarrel with his employer. She also begins to suspect that Adnan was unfaithful to her, possibly with a Muslim woman who worked in his former office – a woman who shows obvious discomfort when Nawal goes to talk to Adnan’s ex-boss. Is.

Al-Rashid said of Nawal, “She is fighting for her dignity, which she has, and for her rights.” He stressed that he wanted the film to be an “authentic and accurate” portrayal of some aspects of Jordanian society, but not a commentary on that society as a whole.

“I’m not generalizing, I’m talking about this specific incident,” he said. “Throughout my research, I tried to capture some real dialogues and real incidents that happened to people and that reflect a lot about our society. It is definitely a patriarchal society.

4 mouna hawa as nawal in inshallah a boy

Mouna Hawa as Naval in “Inshallah A Boy”. (supply)

“I didn’t want to say that only Muslim women or Christian women are suffering, but all women. Many times I have heard that women are the ‘weakest link’ of our society.” “If half of our society is crippled by oppression and inequality, how can this society develop?”

Despite its socially sensitive themes, Al-Rasheed hopes the film will be shown in cinemas in his homeland and on local television. After all, it is one of the places where he most needs to discuss the topics raised in the film.

“We need to understand each other to grow as a society,” he said. “I don’t believe that cinema – or art in general – has a responsibility to change the world around us, so I’m not trying to change anything with my film. I’m trying to open up a conversation.