Everyone on the Jordanian blogosphere already knows about Amin Matalqa’s plans to film “Captain Abu Raed” but I thought it was a good idea to increase the exposure especially after his endevour has just been chronicled in a Jordan Time’s piece. Given that the newspaper’s website doesn’t store any of the articles I felt it was something that deserved a more permenant spot on the world wide web and one that was worth sharing with the readers of this blog. Because really, any idea born on (half) a napkin at the Cheesecake Factory has just got to be immortalized. Good luck Amin and Laith Majali.
Jordanian feature film to challenge negative Hollywood stereotyping of Arabs
By Grace Peacock
AMMAN Ã¢?? The director of JordanÃ¢??s first feature film Ã¢??Captain Abu RaedÃ¢?Â hopes his movie will launch the countryÃ¢??s filmmaking sector onto the international stage and counter the negative image of Arabs dominating HollywoodÃ¢??s silver screen.
Amin Matalqa, 30, has spent the past two months scouting the country for film locations and casting roles for his first full-length feature film, which is due to start production in spring 2007.
Ã¢??ThereÃ¢??s never been a feature film directed by a Jordanian that has played in cinemas abroad. WeÃ¢??re hoping this film will crack that and really land with a bang,Ã¢?Â said Matalqa, who lives in Los Angeles where he is a student at the American Film Institute.
The story follows the life of an elderly airport janitor, Abu Raed, who is struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife when he befriends a group of poor neighbourhood children who believe heÃ¢??s a pilot.
He begins to tell them fictional stories of his adventures around the world and through this process finds the courage to change not only his own life, but also those around him.
Matalqa says the script took him a year to finalise and had humble beginnings.
Ã¢??Abu Raed, this poor janitor, was born on a napkin at the Cheesecake Factory in Beverly Hills,Ã¢?Â he laughs. Ã¢??And then my dog ate half the napkin, so now I only have one half of it left.Ã¢?Â
ItÃ¢??s a tale with universal themes about overcoming loss, finding strength and courage in friendship and turning dreams into reality. Matalqa says itÃ¢??s rare to find a film featuring Arabs that is apolitical.
Ã¢??This could be a movie that makes a difference. I really think thereÃ¢??s a need to see Arabs in a different light. I want to make a film that leaves an impression and shows Arabs as humans and not as terrorists,Ã¢?Â he said.
The filmÃ¢??s production crew includes producers David Pritchard (The Simpsons), Ken Kokin (The Usual Suspects), and cinematographer Reinhart Peschke (JFK, Born on the Fourth of July), and Jordanian editor Laith Majali.
Ã¢??We are excited to translate the touching story of Abu Raed into moving pictures to show the world that unconditional love is one of the characteristics of the Arab people,Ã¢?Â said Peschke.
Ã¢??I believe this film will be a stepping stone for Jordan to establish itself as a cultural centre for filmmaking in the Middle East,Ã¢?Â he added.
Jordan Pioneers, headed by Khalid Haddad, will provide production services for Ã¢??Captain Abu Raed.Ã¢?Â The movie will be filmed in various locations in east and west Amman, Salt and at the Citadel.
Jordan Times – Tuesday, August 22, 2006