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HomeEntertainmentCannes Hidden Gem: Taking On The Patriarchy With Jordan's 'Inshallah A Boy'

Cannes Hidden Gem: Taking On The Patriarchy With Jordan’s ‘Inshallah A Boy’


The story of a widow pretending to be pregnant with a boy to keep a roof over her head sounds like the basis for a kind of black, The Handmaid’s Tale-inspired comedy set in a bleak dystopian future. But in Amjad Al-Rasheed’s Jordanian drama Inshallah a boy — bowing at Cannes Critics’ Week — it’s much closer to home.

Delving into a rather thorny issue in the Arab world, the film follows Nawal, a mother and homemaker whose husband suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, leaving her and her daughter to face Jordan’s archaic patriarchal inheritance laws. Simply put, because Nawal has no son, her husband’s family is entitled to most of her property, including her house (which she paid for herself).

Al-Rasheed, who is making his feature film debut, says he was inspired by a very close relative who faced the same situation.

“She devoted her life to serving her family, her daughter and husband, and when she bought a house with her own money, her husband asked her to put the title deed in his name, because it is considered a disgrace for a man to live in a women’s house,” he says. When her husband died, his family showed up and explained to their daughter-in-law that they would “allow” her to live in the house.

It was this sentence that motivated the filmmaker to write the story and answer several big questions. What if they hadn’t said this? What are her options? What if she said no? And does it make sense that we are governed by a law that was created 1,400 years ago?”

In researching the idea, which circulated for the better part of a decade, Al-Rasheed said he spoke to countless women and discovered a common thread connecting them all. “They all felt they were the weakest link, and that the law just doesn’t back them up in the end,” he says, adding that while inheritance law may not be widely known, it’s still commonplace in much of the world. the region (the film even inspired one of his own crew members to quickly change his will to protect his children).

There has been a lot of talk about women’s empowerment in the Middle East in recent years, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, where the famous driving ban on women was lifted and some of the restrictions imposed by the male guardianship system lifted. But despite all the headlines, societies are still extremely male-dominated.

“Maybe there have been some moves, but there is still a lot of work to do,” Al-Rasheed says. “And it has to be through education and through the new generation, and how we treat each other in general, not just women.”

This is where Inshallah a boy (which translates as ‘God be willing, a boy’) steps in, with the director saying his sole purpose is to “make people think and rethink what has been normalized for so many years”, adding. prefers films that “start after I leave the cinema and stay with me.”

While Al-Rasheed may be hoping to quietly and creatively change the course of history with his filmInshallah a boy has already made history itself, becoming the first Jordanian title to be selected for Cannes. This achievement may sound surprising given the amount of film activity in the country, which has been the region’s top destination for major Hollywood blockbusters for decades, dating back to Lawrence of Arabia and more recently including the likes of The pain box, Zero dark thirty, The Martian and both chapters of Dune.

But Al-Rasheed notes that while Jordan boasts a highly experienced and in-demand crew, it still lacks a film industry of its own.

“We’re a small community and we probably make a good movie, one that we take to a festival every four or five years,” he says. This rare character of local filmmaking actually benefited Al-Rasheed’s production. The burst of Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning film industry lured many of the Jordanian crew across the border, but the director says it had a special magnetic appeal because it was a homegrown project.

“Because it was a Jordanian film, everyone wanted to work on it,” he says. “I can’t express how great the crew was, because even if they had the chance to work on a foreign film or a film in Saudi Arabia for more money, they would rather work on a Jordanian film. Because again, it only happens once every five years, and it’s the opportunity for us to create and do something that we own.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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