Amjad Al-Rasheed's INSHALLAH A BOY won the Gan Foundation Award and the Rail d'Or Award for feature film on Wednesday, May 24th during the closing ceremony of Cannes’ Critics Week, which ran alongside the Cannes Film Festival from May 17th to the 25th.
INSHALLAH A BOY was the only Arab film competing in the 62nd edition of the parallel section, which showcased 11 features — seven in competition and four as special screenings.
Overseen by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the section focuses on first and second features as well as shorts by emerging talents.
Previously, the first Jordanian film to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival had a full house screening, with public dignitaries, A-list celebrities, critics, and media figures from foreign media outlets flocking to see it.
Moreover, it garnered immediate widespread acclaim, with Ankit Jhunjhunwala from the International Cinephile Society writing: “Based on this gripping new film, anticipation for subsequent films from this region should be high.”
Meanwhile, David Katz from View of the Arts rated the film five out of five and described it as “a powerful film that brings to light the complex interplay between tradition, gender, and inheritance.”
Amber Wilkinson from Eye for Film also gave the film a perfect rating and praised the director’s efforts, writing that “Amjad Al Rasheed — who collaborated on the script with Rula Nasser and Delphine Agut — shows strong control of the mood in his first film,” and Deed’s Shahram Ashraf Abyaneh described it as "a breathtaking marathon about a woman ensnared in the spider web of a male-dominant society held together by tradition and religion.”
The film follows the recently widowed Nawal, who has to save her daughter and home following her husband’s death in a society where having a son is a game changer.
It kicked off its journey as a project, joining several international workshops, including the 79th Venice International Film Festival's Final Cut, where it nabbed a La Biennale di Venezia Prize and a cash award. Moreover, it received two cash awards from the El Gouna Film Festival and Festival International de Films de Fribourg.
INSHALLAH A BOY also received production and post-production support from Jordan's Royal Film Commission in two cycles, a monetary prize from the Arab Radio and Television Network at the fifth Cairo Film Connection, and production support from the Doha Film Institute.
Directed by Al-Rasheed and co-written alongside Delphine Augte and Rula Nasser, the film stars Mouna Hawa, Haitham Omari, Salwa Nakkara, Yumna Marwan, Mohammad Al-Jizawi, Eslam Al-Awadi, and Celina Rabab'a.
Additionally, the film was produced by Rula Nasser and Aseel Abu Ayyash; co-produced by Youssef Abdelnabi, Raphaël Alexandre, and Nicolas Leprêtre; associate produced by Alaa Karkouti, Maher Diab, and Shahinaz El-Akkad; lensed by Kanamé Onoyama, edited by the prolific Ahmed Hafez; sound mixed by Nour Halawani; and scored by Jerry Lane. Also, Zeina Soufan and Nasser Zoubi served as the project's costume and production designers respectively.
In terms of the larger companies at play, the film was produced by Imaginarium Films, Georges Films, and Bayt Al-Shawareb. Meanwhile, MAD Solutions and Lagoonie Film Production are in charge of distributing it all over the Arab world and Pyramide International is handling international sales and distribution in France.
This film marks Al-Rasheed's second collaboration with MAD, as the distribution giant handled marketing for his short film THE PARROT.
The film went on to receive several international awards, including the Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Mizna's Twin Cities Arab Film Festival in the US and the Malmö Arab Film Festival. The film also held its world premiere at the 2016 Dubai International Film Festival and is available for streaming on OSN.
A Jordanian director and writer born in 1985, Al-Rasheed holds an MFA in cinematic arts with a focus on directing and editing. In 2016, he was selected by Screen International as one of five Arab Stars of Tomorrow — a list highlighting the up-and-coming young talents of the region. He also attended the Talent Campus during the 57th Berlinale, after which he directed short films that garnered nominations and won prizes at various Arab and international film festivals.
His filmography includes THE PARROT — a short film he co-directed in 2016 that was funded by the Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung — HIT THE ROAD (2011), and BITTER DAYS (2010).