Monday, January 30, 2006

Back from Sundance

Got back from the Sundance Film Festival yesterday. It was a terrific time. It rejuvinated my excitement to see more independent and international films.

One of the best pieces we saw was a documentary called "TV Junkie". This man, Rick Kirkam, recorded over 3,000 hours of his life on camera, a video diary. A very honest one where he documented his family, his drug abuse, his downward spiral into self-destruction. Wow what a story. You enter this man's life and get to experience the most honest depiction of the human journey. It makes you reflect on your life. What if you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?

Another excellent night was a combo screening of a short from Palestinian director Sameh Zoabi, "Be Quiet" and a feature film from a Jewish Australian director, Tony Krawitz, titled "Jewboy". What a wonderful combination as both movies delt with youth's rebellion and questioning of authority. A terrific theme. Very different styles of storytelling. In be quiet, while on a ride through a checkpoint, a boy questions his father how come he's accepted the oppresed living conditions he's under. In Jewboy, a Rabbi-to-be begins rebelling against the oppressed Orthodox life-style he's lived under his whole life. Some beautiful cinematography here and wonderful performances in both films.

Another interesting film was "Dunia" aka "Kiss Me Not on the Eyes" from Lebanese director, Jocelyn Saab. It's a very sensual film that on the outside is a beautiful picture of the art of belly dancing in Egypt told through a woman's journey to find passion for a man, but a much darker film when you realize it's about genital mutilation and its effect on women. A subject of high controversy in Egypt. While the film was a bit long and sometimes maybe overindulgent, I thought it was a great contribution to quality Arabic Cinema.

It's a very exciting time for Arabic cinema. Between Paradise Now and these films entering major festivals, I think we're beginning to make a new impression on the world. I hope to have a Jordanian film at Sundance next year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Back to school

So I'm back in school again, and this week we've been focusing on Production Design. How the designer works with the director, the cinematographer... all that fun. And as I listen, it keeps me thinking about how rich the East Amman textures are in character. Can't wait to shoot the feature film this summer.

I'm shuffling a bunch of things right now:
1) Clean-up draft of the feature film. Screenwriting is all about rewriting.
2) Writing my 2nd year thesis film about a boy who stalks his neighbor thinking he can turn him into a superhero.
3) Prepping for my cycle 2 film about a loser who has one chance at redemption...getting his daughter's kidnapped dog back (the one he lost to the kidnappers while on his way to sell stolen artifacts at an auction).
4) Conceptualizing my cycle 3 film about a boy who's trying to convince everyone that he's seen Superman.
and 5) I'm serving as First Assistant Director on a Zombie movie in the zoo from Sautrday to Tuesday, shooting nights. This is going to be an intense schedule.

So I'm writing in here because I'm procrastinating working on one of the above right now. I guess I better get back to movie-land.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Get Ready

Get ready for the love story of Bassem and Rabab! Get ready for the human drama! The tragic jealousy and lust of an average man! In celebration of Laith's birthday (which isn't for three more weeks) we're going to release "GAREEMAT AL-HUB" on the web tomorrow, Wednesday Jan 11. I have to take a moment and praise Laith for his perfect comedic timing with music placement while editing the movie. It's great working with someone you trust. This movie was a wonderful collaboration, and I think the fun of it will translate to the screen.

So check back tomorrow at


Friday, January 06, 2006

Under the Tree

I'm back in LA, and it feels great. I love this place, the land of movie-making. I spent just over two weeks in Amman, and it was a very important trip. It was more like a business trip this time around as I met with people, companies, and organizations, scouted locations, and developed new ideas to make what will be the first Jordanian feature film, "Under the Tree".

We're assembling the team over the next six months, and the movie will shoot in Amman in July and August. It's a dramatic story about an old airport janitor, poor street kids, and a female pilot. This will be a jordanian film with universal appeal. We're going to shoot on film with an American/Jordanian camera crew working together hand in hand. We're going to have a Jordanian editor, Laith Majali. A Jordanian writer/director, myself. And this film will provide an experience for various Jordanians who want to have a career in filmmaking. We can't continue this reputation for bad television soaps. We'll show the world that Jordan can be a filmmaking country.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wanted: Self-replication machine

If anyone knows where I can find one, please let me know. It's my last night in Amman, and I am fat and happy, but also torn. I want to stay here more. Be with family more. I want to smell the Amman air more and reconnect with my childhood more. But at the same time, I can't wait to be back in LA so I can see my dogs and wrestle with them. I miss them too much. So now I am torn.

This was one hell of a busy trip. I shot two short comedy films, and had tons of meetings with new faces in preparation for a feature film I'm going to make in Jordan over the summer (more on the feature next post). My visits to Jordan get more exciting everytime I come here.

I think I'll start blogging on things other than film in 2006. There's a lot to comment on.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Liffi Liffi

Because making one movie while in Amman is not enough...

Coming late January... Liffi Liffi, the sequel to Suffi Suffi.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

"Gareemat Al-Hub" The Crime of Love

Every Arab who's watched TV will relate to my new comedy, "The Crime of Love" "Gareemat al-Hub". This short is a parody of the Arabic soaps. I wanted to make a comedy called Zee7i Zee7i, about a girl trying to renew her passport, but I got this other idea and it seemed too appealing. We filmed it in Amman on Dec 30 and we had a blast! A very entertaining cast and a very cool crew created a really fun environment. More on this to come. There are more photos on my web site

Special thanks to Sabri Hakim for taking the photos.