Jordanian director Amjad Al-Rasheed discusses the movie “Inshallah”, his country’s first entry at the Cannes Festival

Amman: At the age of 38, Jordanian director Amjad Al-Rasheed has already made history. This month, his first feature film Inshallah, a boy, became the first Jordanian film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival – the most prestigious event in world cinema.

In addition to feeling “pride and excitement,” Al-Rasheed also felt the pressure of “a huge responsibility” to represent his country and the wider Arab world at Cannes, he told Arab News two days after the film was shown in France. festival.

Inshallah, a boy—a co-production between Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar—may be Al-Rasheed’s first film as a director, but it has taken a long time in the making, going back to his childhood.

Amjad Al-Rasheed is a Jordanian director. (supplied)

When I was 12 years old, I was watching a black and white movie (starring) Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama. My mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her that I want to be a manager. She was smiling—I didn’t understand what the director was, but I knew he was a storyteller,” he said. “I’ve wanted to tell stories since I was a kid.”

The story Al-Rasheed tells in Inshallah, a Boy (which he co-wrote with Rola Nasser and Delphine Agut and shot using an all-Jordanian cast, minus the Japanese director of photography) is surprising, if not particularly happy. , One. At her heart is the widow Nawal (Mona Hawa), a nurse living in a slum in East Amman, whose husband Adnan suddenly died in his sleep. The only property he leaves behind is a pick-up, and Adnan’s brother Rifqi (Haitham Al-Omari) insists on selling it so he can recover some of the money Adnan owes him.

Over the course of the film, Rifky grows more and more impatient, even taking Nawal to court to settle his financial claims. Feeling trapped, and without real support from her brother, Nawal hung up on claiming she was pregnant. If she were to give birth to a son, Rifqi would not claim Adnan’s property, including the apartment where Nawal lives with her daughter, Noura. She is assisted by Lauren (Youmna Marawan), the daughter of Nawal Souad’s (Salwa Nakkara) Christian bossy employer. Constantly complaining about her unfaithful husband, Lauren decides she wants to terminate her pregnancy. Nawal agrees to accompany Lorraine to a clinic in East Amman where she will perform abortions, and in exchange she receives documents from Lorraine that Nawal is pregnant – thus keeping Rifki at her place for at least nine months.

Mona Hawa and Haitham Al-Omari in “God willing”. (supplied)

Aside from dealing with thorny social issues such as abortion, the poverty gap between East Amman and wealthy West Amman, unequal inheritance rights, and the “expected” behavior of single women, the film also addresses dysfunctional family dynamics: Nawal discovers that Adnan has quit his job without telling her four months before he died, after a fight with his employer. She also begins to suspect that Adnan has been unfaithful to her, possibly with a Muslim woman who works in his former office – a woman who shows visible annoyance when Nawal walks in to speak with Adnan’s former boss.

Al-Rasheed said of Nawal: “She is fighting for her dignity, for what she owns, and for her rights.” He stressed that he wanted the film to be an “authentic and accurate” depiction of certain aspects of Jordanian society, but not a commentary on all of that society.

He said, “I am not generalizing, I am talking about this particular incident.” “During my research, I tried to capture some real dialogues and real events that happened to people that reflect a lot about our society. It is definitely a male-dominated society.

Mona Hawa as Nawal in “God willing, a boy”. (supplied)

I did not want to say that only Muslim or Christian women suffer, but all women. I have heard many times that women are the “weakest link” in our society.” “If half of our society is paralyzed by oppression and inequality, how can this society develop?”

Despite its socially sensitive topics, Al-Rasheed hopes the film will be shown in cinemas in his home country and on local television. This, after all, is one of the places where you need to discuss the topics he raises in the movie.

“We need to understand each other in order to evolve as a community,” he said. “I don’t think cinema — or art in general — has a responsibility to change the world around us, so I don’t try to change anything with my film. I try to open up conversations.”

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