A Powerful Salute to Women’s Rights
Inshallah A Boy
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 53m
Director(s): Amjad Al Rasheed
Writer(s): Amjad Al Rasheed, Rula Nasser, Delphine Agut
Cast: Mouna Hawa, Haitham Omari, Yumna Marwan, Salwa Nakkara, Mohammad Al Jizawi, Eslam Al-Awadi, Seleena Rababah
Language: Arabic with English subtitles
Where To Watch: premiering May 18 at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival
RAVING REVIEW: Prepare yourself as we journey through the contemporary landscapes of Jordan. As we embark on our narrative journey, we meet Nawal as played by Mouna Hawa, a recently widowed woman, in this gripping and emotional film, INSHALLAH A BOY. Amjad Al-Rasheed is the director behind bringing this symphony of storytelling to life, skillfully navigates a narrative that plunges us into a society where the mere presence of a male successor tips the scales of a woman's destiny.
Nawal faces the aftermath of her husband's death and the looming danger of losing her life as she knows it. The outdated customs of her community have placed her in the crosshairs to strip her of what is rightfully hers. Some of her most valued possessions, including her home, are teetering on the edge of being seized by her husband's relatives just because she has no son. With no options, Nawal decides to take matters into her own hands and carve out the future for herself and her daughter.
The plot of INSHALLAH A BOY draws the audience into an edge-of-the-seat narrative that ultimately sees the story come down to a tense conclusion where Nawal’s world is questioned. She navigates through a minefield of fear, moral dilemmas, and what are considered societal norms while sustaining her story to safeguard her daughter's future.
Al-Rasheed's film resonates with a story of dystopian futures while illumining the issues parts of the world still face today. With a deft touch, he can mix in a bit of humor that fearlessly shines the spotlight on the repressive inheritance laws still prevalent in parts of the Arab world, laying bare the distressing circumstances women face. Adding a touch of real-life authenticity to the narrative is Al-Rasheed's connection to the story; the trials of a close relative inspired the groundwork for the film.
Al-Rasheed's decade-long research has unearthed a distressingly common narrative among women sharing Nawal's predicament. Even as the Middle East rides a wave of female empowerment, with countries like Saudi Arabia leading the charge, societal structures remain largely male-driven. INSHALLAH A BOY, which translates to 'God Be Willing, a Boy,' is Al-Rasheed's big-screen challenge to viewers to question their world and these archaic norms.
INSHALLAH A BOY shows the potential waiting to be unlocked within a budding film industry inside of Jordan. While known for its association with high-profile Hollywood productions, the country is expanding its roots to create a more robust local film scene. This fact elevates the selection of INSHALLAH A BOY, the first-ever Jordanian title to grace Cannes, into a remarkable tribute to the film and the country.
Amjad Al Rasheed, born in 1985, has crafted a reputation as a director and writer, with "Screen International" marking him as one of the "Arab Stars of Tomorrow" in 2016. His short films have generated quite a buzz at various Arab and International film festivals.
INSHALLAH A BOY is more than just a cinematic experience; it's a beacon of hope and a salute to survival and empowerment. Al Rasheed, with his perfectly represented casting and unwavering dedication to his craft, weaves a vivid tapestry of women's rights in a patriarchal society. Its world premiere at the Critic’s Week signals a bright future for the Jordanian film industry, a sentiment shared by the film's passionate cast and crew.
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[photo courtesy of THE PR FACTORY]