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Jordanian Movies You Should Watch

Discover Jordanian cinema
Discover Jordanian cinema | © Gerd Altmann / Pixabay
Few people appreciate how significant Jordan is to the global film industry. Though people may recognise Jordan’s one-of-a-kind-desert landscapes in blockbuster films like Indiana Jones, The Martian, The Hurt Locker, and Transformers, few know about the films actually set in Jordan or produced by Jordanians. Here are seven worth checking out.

Theeb (2014)

Theeb follows the story of a young Bedouin boy named Theeb, meaning ‘wolf’ during the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire in World War I. Set against the backdrop of Wadi Rum, the film follows Theeb as he tries to guide a British officer on a treacherous journey. The film takes on a number of sensitive themes related to war in this period, including imperialism, orientalism, tradition, and betrayal. The 2014 film won a number of accolades, including a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.

Captain Abu Raed (2007)

This heartwarming film follows the story of Abu Raed, a widowed janitor at an airport who is mistaken for an international pilot one day by a group of kids in the neighborhood. A close bond soon develops between Abu Raed, the kids, and a younger flight attendant who is grappling with the modern day expectations of her family. This is a great film to see the beauty of modern-day Amman. The 2007 film was the the first Jordanian film to enter the Sundance Film Festival.

Nadim Sawalha in 'Captain Abu Raed' © Paper and Pen Films / GigaPix Studios

17 (2017)

17 is a pseudo-sports documentary film that follows a group of young Jordanian women on their journey to compete in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, hosted in Jordan 2016. The film showcases each of the girl’s backgrounds and life stories, providing insight in Jordan’s rich and diverse socioeconomic fabric. Don’t miss out on this underdog-cheering film.

Get to know this fierce girl and all her other teammates in '17' © MAD Solutions

Cherkess (2010)

Cherkess follows the story of an arrival of immigrant Circassians to Ottoman Transjordan in 1990. A love interest soon develops between a Bedouin and Circassian youth that presents the possibility of reconciling conflict. The film underlines the tension created by the clash of Bedouin and Circassian, which still impact Jordan‘s culture and traditions today.

Explore the tragic love interest that develops in "Cherkess." © Sindika Productions

When Monaliza Smiled (2012)

When Monaliza Smiled is an endearing, modern-day romantic comedy set in Amman. The story follows Monaliza, a Jordanian woman in her late 30s who falls for an Egyptian office helper named Hamdi. Hamdi’s identity as an Egyptian man working in Amman highlights the modern day racism, discrimination, and social barriers well known to Amman’s multi-ethnic residents. The film received a number of accolades and was featured in a number of film festivals after its production in 2012.

Two lovebirds surpass social taboos in Fadi Hadda's 'When Monaliza Smiled' © Made In Amman Productions / The Royal Film Commission

May in the Summer (2013)

This dramedy explores the trials and tribulations of May Brennan, a young woman grappling with her Christian mother’s disapproval of her Muslim husband-to-be. Throughout the film, she grapples with individual relationships with her family. The film provides an insight into generational and inter-religious tensions in modern-day Amman.

'May in the Summer' © Displaced Pictures / Anonymous Content / Durga Entertainment / Whitewater Films

When I Saw You (2012)

When I Saw You is a 2012 Palestinian film showcasing the reality of refuge and war. The film centers around the life of 11-year old Tarek and his mother, who are forced to flee from Palestine to Jordan. The film follows Tarek as he struggles to adapt to the new conditions in a refugee camp, leading him to flee again. The film is a must-see for anyone trying to get a sense of the challenges facing refugees in Jordan. It was also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.

'When I Saw You' © Philistine Films / Faliro House Productions