Jordan In the Headlines

In A Good Way, This Time!

Amman – 8/3/2010 – “If I could also just thank (…) the people of Jordan who were so hospitable to us when we were shooting,” said Kathryn Bigelow yesterday evening as she accepted the Academy Award for Best Director for her film The Hurt Locker. The critically- acclaimed film also reaped the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing.

With this multiple win, The Hurt Locker makes cinematic history and yet again – the first time was with “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1963 – puts Jordan, where the film was shot, on the world film map. Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman ever to win an Oscar for best directing in 82 years of the awards’ history. As an independent picture, The Hurt Locker was able against all odds to obtain most major prizes on its way to the Academy Awards ceremony.

Jordan, and The Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC), have reason to share in the joy and pride of this cinematic feat: The Hurt Locker was shot in the Kingdom almost entirely for approximately two months in the summer of 2007. The local geography, settings and demographics played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the shoot. To that, Bigelow announced: “You could look 360 degrees in any given day of the shoot and it would be perfect.” But Jordan was more than a location; the American crew worked closely with the local cast and crew, collaborating with some 70 Jordanian film professionals and some 150 local actors and extras. In addition to Bigelow’s recognition, Ray Becket – who won the Best Sound Mixing Award – thanked his team in Jordan during his acceptance speech, namely Baha Othman, the Jordanian instructor who heads the Sound Department at the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in Aqaba (Jordan).

According to Her Royal Highness Princess Rym Ali, member of the RFC’s Board of Commissioners, the RFC has been praised for ensuring a high level of professionalism and for reducing bureaucratic hassles to a minimum. She added: “The flexibility with which foreign crews can work here and use their imagination to make some places in Jordan look like some others in a different country is very appealing.”

On that, Bigelow has also said that “shooting in Jordan was a great experience. It’s very cosmopolitan; they have a very rich film school and a young film infrastructure.” Since its establishment in 2003, the RFC has committed itself to providing support to Jordan’s upcoming film professionals. According to George David, General Manager of the RFC: “At the end of the day, it’s the talent and the skills of the people that make the difference.”

Princess Rym highlighted the positive impact of attracting international film productions, saying: “Aside from its economic value, it is a learning experience to those who come from outside to film in Jordan and plays an important role in helping foreigners to get to know our people, the Middle East and appreciate who we are,” adding “it’s not only about leaving our mark internationally but also about establishing our stories, owning them and making sure we have a cultural legacy to pass onto our future generations through film.”

(This article came to me through the Royal Film Commission’s Facebook page, where it was not attributed to its author.)

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