INSHALLAH A BOY is Jordan’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2024 Academy Awards®. It begins with the sudden death of the husband of Nawal, a young Arab woman. The tragedy leaves her and her daughter without rights or property under Islamic law—and at the mercy of male relatives. Both her own brother and brother-in-law at first show sympathy. But soon it’s clear that any whiff of assertion—I paid for half this house; I will keep my job; I will raise my daughter as I see fit—is met with the forces of patriarchy. Amjad Al Rasheed’s gripping, taut debut INSHALLAH A BOY immerses us in the tangled impossibilities for a woman who simply wants to keep her home and protect her daughter, without a husband or male heir to legitimize her. Her acts of resistance (including necessary deception) enmesh multiple players in a complex web of risk and hope – reminiscent of Asghar Farhadi’s masterpiece A SEPARATION – as we root and fear for her at every turn. Director/Co-writer Amjad Al Rasheed stops by to talk about the inspiration for his multi-faceted, finding his lead actor Mouna Hawa to play Nawal and the superb supporting cast as well as the pride tken from the wide recognition the film has received from the Cannes Film Festival and other prestigious film festivals from around the world.
INSHALLAH A BOY is the first film from Jordan ever selected for the Cannes Film Festival, where it took home two prizes. It also played at the 2023 Toronto, BFI London, and Karlovy Vary Film Festivals, among many others. It’s Jordan’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2024 Academy Awards®.
About the filmmaker – Director / Writer Amjad Al Rasheed, born in 1985, is a Jordanian director and writer who holds an MFA in Cinematic Arts, specializing in Directing and Editing. His debut feature film, “Inshallah a Boy,” had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, as part of the prestigious La Semaine de la Critique. This marked it as the first Jordanian film ever to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival. It further garnered recognition by winning the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution, and is set to be distributed worldwide in 2023/2024. Following its Cannes premiere, “Inshallah A Boy” was also featured in numerous international film festivals, including TIFF, the Busan International Film Festival, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival, and the AFI Fest, among others. In 2016, Al Rasheed was recognized by “Screen International” as one of five “Arab Stars of Tomorrow,” shining a spotlight on talents from the region. Prior to this, Amjad was invited to participate in the Talent Campus during the 57th Berlinale, after which he directed three short films that received acclaim at multiple Arab and international film festivals.
“Terrifically tense. Exciting, galvanizing…A gripping social drama about systemic oppression…” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“The film strongly evokes a flattering comparison to Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian efforts, especially A SEPARATION and THE SALESMAN: a top-to-bottom accounting of a repressive society laden with class antagonism.” – David Katz, Cineuropa
“The acting is superb, and the pacing is remarkable. But most importantly, the look into women’s rights, morality, and normalized societal oppression speaks volumes about its country and the road to freedom.” – Abhishek Sharma, Film Threat
“A sort of soft-faced tyrany abounds – from the manipulations Rifqi uses in a bid to get Nawal to agree to everything, to the acquiescent response of her brother, who though broadly sympathetic is unwilling to fight her corner.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
“Al Rasheed presents Nawal’s dilemma as Jobian: we’re asked to wonder if her faith will hold firm as her desperation grows. Thrills come from seeing how close she will walk to the precipice. The pleasure of watching is not in wondering if she’ll overcome, but how.” – Rory O’Connor, The Film Stage