User Reviews (18)

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  • tollini4 October 2008
    I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2008. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Raed is an elderly, Jordanian man who seems to be a simple janitor at an airport. But things change for him when he finds a discarded Captain's hat that he wears home. The neighborhood children promote him to a world savy pilot and he promotes himself to being an excellent and imaginative storyteller.

    But Raed is not a simple man. We slowly find out that he is wise and well read. And, he has suffered tragedies in his life that would break most men and make them bitter. Raed resists being morose and adds positively to the world around him. He is kind to strangers, he mentors children with exploitive parents, and he makes other's lives easier and more fun.

    But this wouldn't be much of a story if there weren't a strong conflict. Next door to Raed there is a family dominated by a husband and father who is a wife-beater, child-beater, and drunk. What can an old man do to help? It reminds one of the quote – "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Raed is a good man of courage and sacrifice. He does something.

    FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
  • I had the privilege of seeing Captain Abu Raed at Ohio State (Matalqa's alma mater) with the director present. It was moving to hear the stories of the children actors and their struggles thus far in life. Matalqa also commented about how religion and terror and anything else you usually associate with the middle east is absent in this movie, which is one of the first reactions I got by the end of the movie. It's nice to see a movie not trying to plug in some political statement where it's not needed.

    Captain Abu Raed had a great premise, with an aging janitor pretending to be a pilot and telling neighborhood kids about his "grand adventures." The cinematography was wonderful, and the music added emotional depth. The acting was convincing overall, with the leads impressively not being too impressive (they acted like ordinary people). My biggest complaint is the pacing. It felt like there were two halves of the movie that were completely different from each other, like the second half was almost a sequel to the first. This gave the movie a somewhat uneven feeling, but overall I'd say it didn't substantially take away from the finished product. There were some subplots that I would've liked further developed, but that would probably have added to the unevenness.

    Overall, a good first film, maybe a few steps from greatness, and I look forward to Amin Matalqa's future endeavors.
  • I went to see the film just out of curiosity. I was in for a surprise - a rather pleasant one. This is a great movie from many a viewpoint. The actors, the subject, the photography, the editing and the atmosphere. Looking at it as the first Jordanian feature film (even though many of those who worked on it are not Jordanian) I find it truly great. Looking at it globally, as an international film, I still find it well above average - much better anyway than many low grade Hollywood movies. I only have two regrets. The film would have had an even greater impact if it was some 20 or 25 minutes shorter. The music: although beautiful, well interpreted and recorded, it does not seem very appropriate for such an intimate film; by moments at least. It seems to have been composed for some kind of huge, mega production the likes of Gladiator or Troy and such. Other than that it is, again, a very fine movie and I truly enjoyed it.
  • A Jordanian movie? that's the first thing that popped in my head when I first heard about this at the Sundance film festival which as everyone knows is a very prestigious indie festival, because I've seen all kinds of Arabic films:Algerian, Lebanese, Palestinian but never heard of an international Jordanian movie and that's basically what made me interested and asking and searching for it,and thank god I did because I discovered an Arabic master piece of humanity ,beauty,love,perseverance, sacrifice, devotion and hope all in one man who has one goal an life: to see people happy and living their dreams although he didn't and wasn't disappointed about that he was a saint and he preferred to die than to be contaminated with the vices of society, he only saw goodness in people and made up excuses for bad people. maybe some would say he was living in an imaginary unreal world but he chose it rather than living in despair after his child and wife's death, he refused to take the easy way because real saints can't be turned into demons and taking that easy road would have made him one. abu raed is the symbol of true love and hope. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BRILLIANT WORK
  • lrgupton31 March 2008
    I saw this movie at Sundance 2008 and was thrilled to learn that it was showing at the AFI Film Festival in Dallas. I didn't hesitate for a second to buy a 2nd ticket! Once it's released in theaters, I'll be purchasing my third ticket and insisting that my friends attend with me. We were lucky enough to hear the director speak at both showings which added so much to the experience. Learning that most of the children were cast from children who were living in a refugee camp was quite surprising. The performances of the children were first rate. Nadim Sawalha who played Captain Abu Raed was outstanding as well. In addition, the backdrop for the movie - Amman - was magical. This movie is a must see!
  • This is a film that anyone who has known an old Arab man can not help but love. The rest of humanity will be starting at a disadvantage, but love is still a very distinct possibility. At the same time, if all you look for in a film is lighting and other composition relate things you still will be pleased. It is not flawless, but the sublime moments overpower any fault finding reflexes in me. This film actually bridges and melds together Arab and Western film. Something that the various subcultures of the Arab World have already done to varying degrees in their real lives, but for some reason (pick your own) the arts have lagged behind. The good, bad and ugly were all shown true to life; which isn't the norm in the conservative world of Arabic language film. At the same time the film overflowed with that charm and generosity that is so central in Arab culture. I am an American with Arab roots, which might play a part in my great affection for this film; it might only be really good instead of really really good. Oh my! I almost forgot Rana Sultan, which would have been almost sinful. Every once in a while there is that character in a film (and in real life too) that just dazzles with charm and beauty (Audrey Hepburn and Virginia Madsen are two others that jump to my mind). Her vivacious, powerful, and stunning character filled the screen. It's always nice to fall in love, even if it is only for 102 minutes.
  • kelbel_bt23 June 2008
    I went to see this movie at the Dubai Film Festival as a guest of the Directors brother. I didn't believe I would enjoy the film as it is in Arabic with English subtitles!! However, I can honestly say it is one of the most beautiful and moving films I have ever seen. I laughed and I cried and I held my breath in anticipation. I left the movie theater feeling absolutely blown away by the whole experience of Captain Abu Raed.

    The children are fantastic actors especially when you consider they are refugees who Amin worked closely with.

    This movie really touched my heart and I am counting down until it hits the cinemas here in the UAE so I can see it again and with my friends.

    Congratulations to everyone involved.
  • tutorhouse2 February 2009
    I went to this movie as part of an event put on by the Jordanian Embassy. I had no idea what we were going to watch. Didn't read anything about it beforehand. And to be honest, went begrudgingly. I was in for a very pleasant surprise.

    The movie is beautifully done, and made me cry towards the end. I'm not one of those girls who likes sappy movies, and usually find myself critiquing movies instead of watching them. I didn't during this one.

    I think the beauty of this movie comes from the fact that it feels like a novel. It's smooth, beautiful, and although carries no groundbreaking messages or revelations, it touches your heart. You want to see it, you want it to go on. The kids in the movie melted my heart, and Nadim Sawalha offered a fantastic performance. While I myself don't particularly care for the lead female actress, she did a decent job.

    Overall, I would ignore the negativity and controversy over it being or not being the first independent film out of Jordan. To those who keep arguing about that, why don't you start supporting the good that comes out of Jordan, and stop arguing over anything and everything. It was a very good movie, and in many way representative of the Jordan I knew and grew up in. To those of you who enjoy movies with gorgeous scenery and an element of hope and faith in everyday human relationships, watch it.

    I guarantee you one thing, go with an open mind, and you will not regret seeing this movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As 20007 and 2008 movie trailers kept rolling on the vast screen one viewer sat agitated in a seat in raw C16 in Grand Cinema hall number three. I was waiting for the main feature to start but why was I anxious? Well, I was about to watch the first Jordanian feature film in 50 years.

    What would you do when faced with the following question "are you an airplane captain?" when you know you are no more than a janitor! You do as Abu Raed (Nadeem Sawalha) did in Amin Matalaqa's 2007 movie Captain Abu Raed. He said yes and started telling the children that asked him that question stories about his extensive travels and adventures around the world.

    Captain Abu Raed stars Hussein Al-Souse, Udey Al-Qadise, Muhammad Qteishat, Ghandi Saber, Lina Al-Tal, Ali Maher, Nadim Mushahwar and Rana Sultan.

    How did Abu Raed the janitor end up as the neighborhood's storyteller and renowned aerial captain? After coming across a discarded captain's cap in a trashcan Abu Raed decides to wear it on his way back home. One of the neighborhood children, Tareq (Qadise), spots him coming down from the airport bus and inquires if he is an airplane captain.

    The next day, and as he is about to go to work, Abu Raed finds himself surrounded by a group of children hungry for tales of adventure and dreams.

    Pursuing one's dreams is the main premise in Matalqa's endearing 110-minute movie, which is filled with surreal moments that are a balanced blend of comedy and tragedy. "Good afternoon Um Raed," Abu Raed addressing a framed photograph of his deceased wife as soon as he gets home.

    Surrounded by antiques and shelves burdened with hundreds of books Abu Raed spends most of his time reading at the comfort of his house, which is surrounded by stone facades strewn across Amman's breathtaking landscapes that overlook its overcrowded streets and marketplaces.

    Captain Abu Raed's scenes were shot in Amman, Salt and of course Queen Alia Airport, where Abu Raed befriends the mild mannered and gentle Nour (Sultan), a female airline captain, whose nagging parents (Maher and Al Tal) are trying to pressure her into a marriage of convenience.

    "Shall we go out to the terrace," Abu Raed holding a tray laden with a teapot and two glasses asks Nour, who smiles at his hilarity.

    A few minutes later and from the rooftop of his home Abu Raed proves to Nour that a person does not have to be a commercial airliner to fly above the clouds. Lying on his back and gazing at the never ending heavens Abu Raed also advises Nour, who is now doing the same, not to allow society or her parents to control her life.

    Abu Raed also gets involved in the lives of Tareq (Qadise) and Murad (Al Souse), two troubled children from his neighborhood. Tareq's father is forcing him to skip school and sell chocolate wafers, while, Murad's father (Saber) is tormenting and abusing his wife, Murad and his brother Hilal (Qteishat).

    Ghandi Saber's portrayal of the abusive Abu Murad is haunting. He is able to capture the menace of a misguided father, who can easily sow rage and sadness in his own children. Saber will most certainly dazzle Jordanian audiences in the years to come, whether he was performing in television, cinema or on stage.

    Veteran Jordanian actor Nadeem Sawalha, who I had the pleasure of meeting in 2003 in Amman, when he was performing All I Want is a British Passport!, a one man stage performance inspired by the story of Mohammed Al Fayed, added his own personal warmth to the character of Abu Raed that won him a Best Actor Award at the Dubai International Film Festival.

    Sawalha has been in dozen international cinematic productions like The Lion and The Wind (1975), Ian Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), The Nativity Story (2006) and Diana: Last Days of a Princess (2007).

    While Amin's well-rounded script introduces audiences to different story lines presented through smooth visual transitions provided by Laith Majali's edits, Reinhart 'Rayteam' Peschke's cinematography accompanied by Austin Wintory's subtle original musical score re-opens our eyes to the beauty of Amman's scenery.

    Most if not all Jordanians will be able to recognize the Jordanian characters (dream possessed children, the nagging overprotective parents, the grumpy bus driver, the always complaining taxi driver and the hazy co-worker), Amman's cultural and historical motifs (Amman's asymmetrical architecture, Salt's ancient houses, the Citadel and the largest Jordanian Flag in the world) and cinematic references (the Francois Truffaut allusion) that Amin incorporated in his movie that transcends social differences and boundaries.

    Captain Abu Raed, which won the Audience Award for the World Cinema for Drama in the recent Sundance Film Festival, is simply Matalqa's ode to Amman.

    It is definitely worth the ticket price and every Jordanian should watch it at the movies for who wants to tell his children and grandchildren after a few years that he watched the first Jordanian feature in 50 years on DVD. Well…not this Jordanian!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Abu Raed (Nadim Sawalha)is a simple airport janitor at the International Airport in Amman. One day he finds a discarded captain's hat in the garbage.When he wears it on his way home, one of the kids in the neighborhood mistake him for a pilot and wants him to tell about 'his adventures'. Though he is unwilling to tell any story at first, Abu Raed doesn't mind pretending to be the local captain who regales the kids with his 'airborne exploits.' What seems to be a simple,unimportant hat at first turns out to be a treasure trove of love and fun.We later find out that Abu Raed is a guy who resists being an embittered, hardened old man in spite of the fact that he lost his wife and his only child. Though he is a simple janitor, he speaks profoundly from the heart. He is well-read and wise. He even has a smattering of a few European languages.

    With such an original story, truly moving picture and convincing acting you just want it to be bit more fast-paced actually. Since there are lots of subplots in the movie, during almost more than half of the movie you just wonder which set of events (or people) will be regarded less important. Whose story will be developed? The story of Nour (Rana Sultan), a female pilot whose wealthy father poorly tries to find her a husband or the story of the local kid Tareq (Udey Al-Qiddissi)who is forced into child labor by his father instead of going to school? In the end, Amin Matalqa chooses to tell the story of Abu Murad whose mother constantly gets beaten by his abusive father. Though you can't tell everyone's story in a feature length movie, Mataqa's finalizing all these subplots in a finale in the last twenty minutes leaves a half-baked flavor in your cinematic enjoyment and you wish it were a better-paced and better-edited movie but that doesn't mean Abu Raed is not a movie that's worth every minute of your time.It is purely humanitarian,truly moving movie which somehow gets to you. The pièce de résistance, however, is the fact that this movie Amin Matalqa's feature length debut.
  • This movie is a great one on several levels: 1- It depicts the life in Amman Jordan in a very real way: the difference between the poor (eastern) and rich (western) sides of the city very well. The nostalgic aspects of Amman downtown - the roman ruins everywhere, the stairs, the groups of kids running around ... This is one aspect never found in any previous Jordanian movies.

    2- The movie has very capable actors - very expressive faces. The kids in the movie are supposedly 1st time actors, gathered from refugee camps in Jordan. That is AMAZING. They truly acted so natural.

    3- amazing soundtrack - the music score adds so much to the emotional scenes - yet, it remains transparent. Perfect combination.

    4- the story is very nice, global, humanistic, 3rd world concerns (child employment, familial violence, poverty, class segregation, etc.) I think the story could have been better: I wish it had more depth, I wish the problems presented are not so "cliche". Child employment and familial violence are problems that usually 1st world people "project" on 3rd world countries. However, if you ask 3rd world people about it, chances are they are at the bottom of the list. Not because they are not important, but because there are so many other more pressing problems, AND, because they often tend to be symptoms of poverty & ignorance.

    I wish the author has picked a problem where right and wrong are actually much harder to decide. The movie seemed a bit long even at 1.5 hours.

    I also wish the movie got faster.. the introduction, and I would say the first 60 minutes of the movie were perfect. The director was preparing the stage for the plot very nicely. However, after 60 minutes, one would expect the movie to pick up speed and not remain very "dreamy" like. The plot came very quickly.

    Overall, great job director Matalqa. I am looking forward for his future movies.
  • filmaji-12 April 2008
    The filmmaker's cut-throat approach to promoting his film has raised a few eyebrows. Matalqa in numerous interviews claims his film is the first Jordanian feature film in 50 or 30 years. But the truth is two feature films were made in Jordan: The Mission in 2007 and Oriental Tale in 1991. I don't see why it's necessary to try to erase other people's accomplishments to make a name for himself. Why not continue the journey that others have started instead of undermining their legacy. As for the film itself, it's not technically weak but it's not a memorable film. What's noticeable about the film is the presence of so many actors who work in official institutions in Jordan such as employees or former employees of various cultural organizations such as Ali Maher of the Royal Film Commission, Lina Attal (head of Queen Nour Performing Arts Center), Dina Raad (ex-manager at the Royal Film Commission), Phaedra Dahdaleh (ex-Royal Film Commission employee) and others, Rana Sultan (Jordan Government TV presenter). Yet this film is being promoted as an independent film.
  • i agree with most of the comments here about the director. the movie is slow for my taste and does not really develop or set grounds until half is over. good acting though and good cinematography. some will argue about the music, i liked the classical orchestra touch, i think it does add an interesting dimension to the film.

    however, the story is not well developed and it seems the director is having an ego issue with being the new messiah of jordan. lame how he steps over so many other great productions and directors.

    good learning curve though for him though :) i hope to see more developed stories from matalqa in the future.
  • First of all the film Captain Abu Raed is unexceptional. I am also one of those people who have to take into consideration the director behind the film. I am disappointed with Amin Matalqa's reply to a comment by Elia.

    Mr. Matalqa claims his film is Jordanian because it's 100% Jordanian funded. Does that mean other Jordanian films who were denied funding by local Jordanian sources because they don't have Mr. Matalqa's connections that those films are not Jordanian films? Famous Jordanian director Mahmoud Massad, maker of the award-wining documentary Recycle (winner of Sundance World Cinematography Award) did not receive a penny of support in Jordan. So he won a few funding competitions at the Berlinale World Cinema Fund and San Sebastian. Mr. Matalqa wants to tell us that Mr. Mahmoud Massad's film is not Jordanian. That's fantastic. So all a third world regime has to do is to make laws forbidding funding for filmmakers they don't like and that makes these black-listed films foreign films? I am glad film festivals do not go by Mr. Matalqa's definition of a national film.

    Then Mr. Matalqa attacks Najdat Anzour's film Oriental Tale (1991) accusing it of not being a Jordanian film because Mr. Anzour is not Jordanian. But the actors and the script and the shooting location are Jordanians. And by the way, Najdat Anzour has the Jordanian passport. That makes him Jordanian as well as Syrian.

    But even if the film follows the nationality of the filmmaker, does that mean all of Roman Polanski's films are French or Polish? There are other Hollywood filmmakers who are not American. Yet there films classify as Americans. Mr. Matalqa wants to change all of that just for his film's sake and to exclude other Jordanian films and filmmakers from the spot light. Too drastic.

    Mr. Matalqa claims that because a film is French funded, that it's not Jordanian. That means 90% of films made in the third world are French or German or Italian films? What about countries that can't afford to fund films. What about repressive regimes who ban funding for filmmakers critical of the status quo? It would be a great day for repression if Mr. Matalqa gets his way with his new funding criteria and national identity.

    As for the Jordanian feature film the Mission (2007), again Mr. Matalqa insults the filmmakers by making fantastic statements as to why his film is still number one. He says "The Mission was filmed in July 2007, one month after Captain Abu Raed" So? it was screened before Captain Abu Raed in Jordan. This must be a new role where the film's year of production is decided by the day the camera starts rolling for the first time.

    "and was never released in cinemas nor festivals." Another bizarre rule Mr. Matalqa invented. Many films screen in art houses and cultural centers and not paid commercial theaters. They still count as films. They still exist. The Mission is a film that was made and screened in Jordan in more than one cultural center under the patronage of royalty. It's a real film.

    "I also understand it was shot with TV video cameras" Again, Mr. Matalqa denigrates the film because of the limited means of the filmmaker. We know of films that had won international acclaim that shot with a simple video camera. That's the whole idea behind Dogme 95 and other film-making schools. Even Oliver Stone used a TV video camera to make some of his great films.

    Mr. Matalqa is so eager to monopolize the spotlight that he is willing to hurt so many other filmmakers and to change the whole international system by which films are classified and judged. Wouldn't be much easier to make a good film and leave us to decide? I hope Mr. Matalqa changes his stance instead of digging deeper and deeper and offending more and more people.

    It's all about the quality of the film. So give it a rest Mr. Matalqa.
  • With a little more attention to avoiding idealistic romanticism (without losing smiling atmosphere of the drama) and with a more intense scenario, this movie could certainly be a masterpiece. Nevertheless, it's not an unsuccesful movie. It presents a stronge panoramic feeling on viewing eastern societies' humanistic values in daily life without exagerrating and shoots adverse instances, as well. --- Everyone should meet Captain Abu Raed, the old wise man and should attend his storytelling dreams.
  • I love Captain Abu Raed and the love he has in his heart for everyone around him. He helps everyone and never expects anything in return. His character is beautifully written and you learn so much about him and you can see how his past helps to shape him as a person and his actions. I feel like the character of Abu Raed is a person who everyone wishes that they had in their life. He is that amazing.

    You NEED to watch this movie. It is amazing. Everything about this movie is amazing. The actors, the setting, the story, the characters, the dialogue --- EVERYTHING. WATCH IT. <3 <3 <3
  • Zoooma13 August 2014
    Sundance Audience Winner for World Cinema Dramatic.

    First feature film made in Jordan in 50 years.

    A beautiful film about an old and lonely man and his way of finding good in people and helping those around him. One day his world enlarges with new characters who become very important in his life. They give him meaning and everything changes. Subplots trudge along kind of slowly. There could have been more depth and better pacing but what's here on the surface is always engaging. Overall it's a very moving story that is filmed so very well; the lush orchestral score, cinematography and direction are each excellent to outstandingly perfect. Performances by the cast are simple and real, allowing us to get close to these people on the screen, to feel for them and their situations.

    Through my first 141 movies seen in 2013, this was my 6th Best!

    8.6 / 10 stars

    --Zoooma, a Kat Pirate Screener
  • "Captain Abu Raed" is, according to IMDb, the first full-length movie form Jordan in 50 years! Considering all the nice qualities in this one, I sure hope to see more from the Jordanian film industry--though I fear that few will actually see this film or appreciate the film's finer qualities. Sure, it does NOT have a clear ending and is far from formulaic--but there is a lot to like about the picture.

    Abu Raed (Nadim Sawalha) is a nice middle-aged man who works as a janitor at the airport in Amman, Jordan. However, he's also very lonely and through the course of this film you see him forge some new relationships. It all begins when Abu Raed discovers a pilot's hat in the trash. He takes it home and a child assumes he's a captain working for the airlines. Considering how he dresses and how he lives in a relatively ordinary part of town, you wonder how the kid could believe this. He even tells the kid he's NOT a pilot. However, the next day, a bunch of kids show up at his house and want to hear about his world travels. Again, he tells them he's not a pilot. However, later he relents and tells them all sorts of stories about his supposed exploits--and regales them with stories of pure fiction. However, he's able to fake it reasonably well because although he's a lowly janitor, he's very smart and reads voraciously. In fact, he even can speak a little French and English. This is how he meets his next friend--a lady pilot, Nour (Rana Sultan). They slowly become friends--and an unlikely friendship it is. Where does all this go? See the film. Just don't be surprised it it goes no where near where you expect!

    The best thing about this film are the characters, character development and dialog. The story itself has many interesting aspects but for me it's all about the characters and the nice, natural acting. This is a very gentle and sweet film--one that is perfect if you are looking for something different. Just be aware, its ending may leave you a little flat if you demand happy or clear endings.