Captain Abu Raed

Captain Abu Raed (Arabic: كابتن أبو رائد‎) is a 2007 Jordanian Film directed and written by Amin Matalqa. It is the first feature film produced in Jordan in more than 50 years.[1] The Royal Film Commission of Jordan endorsed Captain Abu Raed to be submitted to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, the first ever submitted by Jordan.[2] The film won awards at numerous film festivals including the Sundance Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival, and the Dubai International Film Festival. It was screened at the Jerusalem International Film Festival in 2008.[3]

Captain Abu Raed
Directed byAmin Matalqa
Produced byKenneth Kokin
Isam Salfiti
Aida Jabaji Matalqa
Nadine Toukan
Laith Majali
David Pritchard
Written byAmin Matalqa
StarringNadim Sawalha
Rana Sultan
Music byAustin Wintory
Release date
  • 11 December 2007 (2007-12-11) (Dubai International Film Festival)
  • 6 February 2008 (2008-02-06)
Running time
102 min


Abu Raed is an airport janitor at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. After finding a Royal Jordanian captain's hat in the trash, the neighborhood children mistake him for an airline pilot and beg him to tell them stories of his adventures. At first refusing, he later concedes and tells them about his fictional travels to England, France, and New York, earning the name "Captain Abu Raed"

An older child, Murad, knows who Abu Raed really is and sets out to prove the other children wrong, repeating the phrase "People like us don't grow up to be pilots." With some dinars he found, Murad takes the other children on a taxi ride to the airport to show them the truth about Abu Raed. The children are heartbroken at seeing their idol on his hands and knees, scrubbing the floor.

It is later shown that Murad had stolen the money from his father Abu Murad, who, drunk after a hard day selling women's clothing on the street, often abused Murad's mother, Um Murad. Abu Murad was exceptionally mad about the loss of money and took it out on his wife.

Meanwhile, at the airport and on the bus home, Abu Raed gets to know Nour, a female pilot whose wealthy father poorly attempted to find her a husband. During a friendly visit to his home, he tells her about his past, including a deceased wife and son, Raed.

Abu Raed also had to deal with Tareq, one of the children whom he told stories to, whose father had him selling wafers on the street rather than going to school. Abu Raed knew he was a smart boy so he bought all of his wafers so Tareq could attend school. However, this was a mixed blessing as Abu Tareq would then give Tareq more wafers to sell, seeing as he was a good salesman.

Abu Raed, after being exposed as a phony, forgave Murad and gave him the pilot hat as a token of forgiveness. Later, Murad steals a model airplane and gets his hand burned by his father for it. Abu Raed is there to comfort him, creating a bond between the two. This event convinces Abu Raed to find a way to bring Murad, his younger brother, and his mother to safety.

After Abu Raed treats Murad's burns one night, Murad leaves, and so does Abu Raed. On his way home, he finds an intoxicated Abu Murad lying in the street, who tells Abu Raed to 'shut up'. Abu Raed lifts a heavy stone, considering ending the misery Abu Murad caused himself and his family. However, he is overcome by his feelings and leaves him unharmed.

One night, before Abu Murad gets home, Abu Raed develops a plan to protect Murad and his family. Nour volunteers to take them in, because her wealthy family owns a large house. She brings her car to the living area where Abu Raed and the Murads live, and they hurriedly pack the belongings of the Murad family. As they are about to leave, Murad runs back to retrieve the pilot's cap, a symbol of his dreams and aspirations. Nour then sets off for her house, as Tareq appears and asks what is going on, to which Abu Raed replies, "Nothing." Tareq becomes the last person, other than a drunk Abu Murad, to see Abu Raed alive.

Despite repeated warnings from Um Murad that "He's going to kill you", Abu Raed sits in the Murad apartment and awaits Abu Murad's return. Upon finding his house empty, Abu Murad threatens Abu Raed's life. Abu Raed is implied to have been killed in that apartment. Years later, a grown-up Murad is seen watching the airfield as a Royal Jordanian pilot.


Many of the movie's open scenes are set on the well-known Roman ruins high above Amman, on Jabal al-Qal'a. The "Making of Captain Abu Raed" on the Western release of the DVD points out that although the movie takes place entirely in Amman and the airport, the neighborhood surrounding Abu Raed's home was shot in the neighboring old city of Salt.

Although the date of the movie is never specified by any notes or characters, the usage of the Eastern Arabic numerals on vehicles' license plates implies that the movie takes place in the past, as a recollection from youth by the adult Captain Murad. Jordan switched from the Eastern Arabic numeral system to standard Arabic numerals in the 1990s.


  • Nadim Sawalha – Abu Raed
  • Rana Sultan – Nour
  • Hussein Al-Sous – Murad
  • Udey Al-Qiddissi – Tareq
  • Ghandi Saber – Abu Murad
  • Dina Ra'ad-Yaghnam – Um Murad


  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival
    • Grand Jury Prize – World Cinema – Dramatic

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Matalqa, Amin. "Bringing Captain Abu Raed to Life". Moving Pictures Magazine. Archived from the original on 11 April 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
  2. ^ Luck, Taylor (5 September 2008). "Captain Abu Raed to be considered for Oscar nomination". Jordan Times. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  3. ^ David B. Green (15 July 2008). "The Vicarious Life". Haaretz. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  4. ^ "4th Dubai International Film Festival" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Award-winners at the 29th Durban International Film Festival". Durban International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  6. ^ a b "Grand Prize Winners Announced; Screenings Continue All Week". Heartland Film Festival. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Newport Beach Film Festival Awards". Archived from the original on 23 October 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  8. ^ "SIFF Announces Audience and Jury Award Winners". Seattle International Film Festival. 15 June 2008. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  9. ^ "2008 Sundance Film Festival Announces Awards" (PDF). 26 January 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.

External linksEdit