OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

The lights will come on again!

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The ByTowne is now closed. But there's good news!

After the pandemic has been brought under control,
new management will take over the space and the ByTowne will re-open.

It may take a while for pandemic restrictions to be eased enough
that a feasible number of patrons can be allowed to watch a movie again,
but the new owners are working towards that day.

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Theeb

Official Selection from Jordan for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

As the First World War rapidly approaches Theeb’s forgotten corner of the Ottoman Empire, a Bedouin tribe is slowly adjusting to the changes brought upon them following the death of their respected Sheikh. It’s a subdued, yet tightly framed, portrait of tribal life seen through the youthful eyes of the Sheikh’s youngest son, Theeb.

Poster art for TheebCinematographer Wolfgang Thaler paints an exquisitely beautiful image of Bedouin culture as older brother Hussein patiently teaches Theeb the nuances of nomadic life: tracking, hunting, finding water and the duty of Dakheel. The quiet beauty conjured by Thaler’s wide-angled shots of barren landscapes and director Naji Abu Nowar’s limited palette of pale sandy hues, unhurried exposition and exotic musical score, is hypnotic.

The tranquil atmosphere is rudely interrupted when Theeb’s eldest brother and new Sheikh, Hmoud, hears unfamiliar sounds in the darkness. It’s a gorgeous shot as we watch Hmoud disappear into the night before returning like an apparition with British soldier Edward (Jack Fox) and his guide Marji.

When the strangers request a guide to lead them through dangerous terrain to an ancient water well on the road to Mecca, Hmoud honours Dakheel law and volunteers Hussein as a guide. Theeb mischievously sets out to follow Hussein and ends up a part of the perilous journey.  

A second change in tone arrives violently as the group comes face to face with a band of murderous Bedouin raiders. Theeb (‘wolf’ in Arabic) soon discovers the great importance of his name as he learns to survive through cunning and impossible feats.

Nowar’s decision to use non-actors was a ballsy move that proves to be spellbindingly spot-on. Eid Al-Hwietat is particularly outstanding as the precocious Theeb. Jerry Lane’s score of pulsating rhythms and haunting chants, reminiscent of the Silk Road, is mesmerizing. It’s also a fabulous juxtaposition to its east/west setting and its Lawrence Of Arabia time period.

Director Nowar’s inclusion of Mdallah Al-Manajah’s ode to life is another inspiring selection. You can’t help but be moved by its homage to the Bedouin tradition of oral story-telling and poetry and its words of wisdom from father to son.

Theeb is truly a cinematic delight. It’s exquisite, intriguing and downright thought-provoking.

– Sacha Hall, The Hollywood News

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