A wonderful recent assignment in Jordan, writing about the growth of independent cinema. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook:
Copy/pasting the FB status here:
I had such fun writing this article on Jordan’s emerging film industry, and the work of the amazing Nadine Toukan as creator, mentor, guide and inspiration.
It’s an article I’ve been wanting to write for years, since Nadine and director Amin Matalqa were so generous as to invite me on set for the last night’s filming on ‘Captain Abu Raed’, back in 2007. That was a night to remember. Amin’s work – and the work of so many others since, not least the team on Theeb – ذيب – felt to me like Jordanians starting to reclaim ideas and stories and identities that had, for too long, been shaped and controlled by outsiders. That’s vitally important and, without Nadine, it seems to me it would have been harder to sustain that effort collectively. Almost a decade on, Jordan is now able to demonstrate how a small, resource-poor country can – and should – nurture the creative arts independently, free from state patronage. The benefits that can bring, domestically and on the world stage, are, perhaps, starting to show.
Without meaning to sound melodramatic, this is a story about much more than cinema.
I hope I’ve been able to convey something of the energy and excitement I’ve felt over years as a bystander watching Jordan…
And what a privilege to share a byline with the exceptional photographer George Azar!
I’m delighted that the incredibly hardworking team at 7iber (“hibber”), an independent media site in Amman, have also translated the whole piece into Arabic – click here to read.
Incidentally, if you haven’t seen Theeb yet – go. It’s superb. My film of the year. I reviewed it for BBC Radio 4 – listen here. After runs in the Middle East, the UK, across Europe and elsewhere, it’s just opened in the US. Details here. Fingers crossed for the 2016 Oscars…