71st Venice International Film Festival
Director: Alberto Barbera
Arabia, 1916. Theeb lives with his Bedouin tribe in a forgotten corner of the Ottoman Empire. Having recently lost his father, it falls to Theeb’s brother, Hussein, to raise him. Hussein tries to teach Theeb the Bedouin way of life, but the young boy is more interested in mischief than mentorship. Their lives are interrupted with the arrival of a British Army officer and his guide on a mysterious mission. Unable to refuse help to his guests for fear of dishonoring his late father’s reputation, Hussein agrees to escort the pair to their destination. Fearful of losing his brother, Theeb chases after Hussein and embarks on a treacherous journey across the Arabian Desert, a harsh terrain that has become the hunting ground of Ottoman mercenaries, Arab revolutionaries and outcast Bedouin raiders. If Theeb is to survive he must quickly learn about adulthood, trust and betrayal. He must live up to the name his father gave him.
language: Arabic, English - s/t English, Italian
Jacir Eid, Hassan Mutlag, Hussein Salameh, Marji Audeh, Jack Fox
In Bedouin law, if a stranger arrives at your tent requesting refuge, you must grant him protection until the threat can be peacefully resolved. This is known as the “law of Dakheel” and it is considered a sacred duty for a host to protect his “Dakheel,” no matter what the circumstance. Indeed, there are many stories of a host granting this protection only to discover the “Dakheel” has killed a member of the host’s own family. But surprisingly this will not deter the host from his duty; he will protect the killer until peace has been made between them. A man’s reputation is defined by what he does in such difficult circumstances. The more impossible the situation the more respect he receives for upholding the law. Bedouin customs like this have grown from their environment, the desert. They are renowned for their generous hospitality because in the desert you must be able to rely on the kindness of strangers to survive. The terrain is too harsh, water and food too scarce for selfish behavior. It was the combination of a culture of cooperation for survival and a “Dakheel” type moral dilemma that formed the initial idea for Theeb. What would happen if you were stranded with your worst enemy but needed their help to stay alive? How would this relationship develop?