The Jordanian film "Theeb" has been shortlisted for the 2016 Oscar for the best foreign language film by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, according to the Oscars' official website .
The Arabic film, directed and co-written by Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar, is among nine other films that have made the shortlist, after being selected from 81 entries from around the world by an Academy committee.
Nowar's debut feature film is the only Arabic-language film and the only film from the Middle East and North Africa to be shortlisted in the foreign-language film category.
The nine films are now competing for the five nomination spots that will be selected by another Academy committee and announced on Jan. 14, before the entire Academy votes for the winner which will be announced at the Oscars ceremony on Feb. 28.
"Theeb" has already received various regional and international honors and awards, as well as widespread critical acclaim.
The drama is a coming-of-age tale that tells the story of a young Bedouin boy named Theeb who goes on a remarkable journey through the Arabian desert during World War I to guide a British officer to his destination.
The film, credited with being the "first Bedouin Western," has been widely praised for its originality and authenticity, which stems from the fact that Nowar lived in the Jordanian desert with the country’s Bedouin community for months to learn their way of life and sense of humor in preparation for the film.
Moreover, Nowar chose real-life Bedouin tribesmen to play every Bedouin character in the film, including Theeb, played by Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat. The only professional actor on set was British actor Jack Fox, who played Edward.
"A disarmingly complex boyhood adventure with no shortage of tension or harsh beauty, 'Theeb' marks a winning debut feature for co-writer and director Naji Abu Nowar," Robert Abele wrote in his review of the film for the LA Times .
The film premiered at the 71st Venice International Film Festival where it won Nowar the award for best director, it also won best debut film at the 2015 Beijing International Film Festival.
In addition, it won best script at the 43rd Belgrade International Film Festival, best film from the Arab World at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival and the Jury Prize for Best Cinematography and Artistic Direction at the 2014 Cairo International Film Festival.