Focus Jordan 2023
The Jordanian film industry has swiftly advanced over the past two decades following a prolonged period marked by television series production. The turning point was the release of "Captain Abu Raed" in 2007, directed by Amin Matalqa, which was regarded as the first Jordanian narrative film in decades. Subsequently, various independent films emerged, such as "Transit Cities," "Recycle," "Blessed Benefit," "Theeb," "3000 Nights," "Salma's Home," and others.
The Royal Film Commission of Jordan, established as a public institution in 2003, has significantly enhanced the local industry and the kingdom's appeal. It aims to encourage Jordanian and regional filmmakers to express themselves through film production and provide a space for creatives from the Arab world and distinguished international filmmakers to collaborate freely. The commission offers comprehensive production services and various training opportunities for different levels of the film industry. It also organizes non-commercial film screenings throughout the year in collaboration with partners worldwide. Additionally, the commission has expanded its activities to include six film centers in the kingdom. The Royal Commission manages a support fund with an annual value exceeding $750,000, which has financed numerous award-winning Jordanian films, including "Daughters of Abdulrahman" by Zaid Abu Hamdan, "Farha" by Darin J. Sallam, and "The Alleys" by Bassel Ghandour. The fund has also supported several joint Arab productions with Jordan.
In 2015, for the first time in Jordan's audio-visual history, a feature film made it to the shortlist at the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film: "Theeb" by Naji Abu Nowar, which garnered significant acclaim. Among other notable successes was the selection of the debut feature film "Inshallah a Boy" by Amjad Al-Rasheed at the Critics' Week during the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. This recent success of pioneering films, strongly supported logistically and financially by the Royal Commission, has instilled in Jordanians the belief in their ability to compete globally with a bold and credible cinema.
Jordan has rapidly evolved in recent decades, establishing itself as an attractive filming destination, owing to a confluence of factors: diverse locations, advanced infrastructure, mild and sunny weather, the availability of professional actors and crew, government support for the film industry, streamlined administrative procedures, and financial incentives. Financial reimbursement ranges from 10% to 25% of the expenditure, while productions are exempt from Jordanian taxes. In addition to the financial rebate, production companies can recoup up to 56%.
Prominent and well-known films serve as evidence of such an enabling environment. Among these films, for instance, are "Lawrence of Arabia" by David Lean, starring Peter O'Toole, which was filmed in Wadi Rum in 1962, and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," which was shot in Petra in 1988.
Director Kathryn Bigelow also filmed "The Hurt Locker" in Jordan, which won six Oscars in 2010. Among other films are "Redacted" directed by Brian De Palma, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" by Clint Skene, "Fair Game" by Doug Liman, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, and "Battle for Haditha" by Nick Broomfield. Several globally renowned directors consider Jordan as one of their favorite shooting locations. Notably, director Ridley Scott visited Jordan several times for his films, including "The Martian," "All the Money in the World," and "Prometheus." After the tremendous success of his film "Incendies," director Denis Villeneuve filmed significant portions of "Dune" and "Dune 2" in Jordan.
In this context, the Carthage Film Festival, which has been and remains a nurturing ground for all Arab and African experiments and a platform for launching onto the global stage for many directors and filmmakers, cannot overlook the richness of this experience and its importance. It should fulfill its usual role of providing opportunities for the audience of the festival, including Tunisians and guests, with their various backgrounds and tastes, to get acquainted with a cinema that is steadily progressing in terms of quantity and quality. Additionally, they can learn about the Jordanian experience, which will be represented in the section "Focus Jordan 2023" within the 34th edition of the Carthage Film Festival 2023, featuring 10 films :
Five feature films :
- "Theeb", directed by Naji Abu Nowar
- "Daughters of Abdulrahman'", directed by Zaid Abu Hamdan
- "The Alleys", directed by Bassel Ghandour
- "Farha", directed by Darin J. Sallam
- "Tiny Souls", directed by Dina Naser. (A documentary film)
Five short films :
- “Truce”, Salah Al Khataybeh
- “Kroka”, Samer Battikhi
- “Diana”, Maysoon Hbaidi
- “Give Up The Ghost”, Zain Duraie
- Tala’ Vision”, Murad Abu Eisheh