Sunday, April 06, 2008

For the few cynics in Jordan

The reception for Captain Abu Raed in Jordan has been tremendous and very encouraging as I plan to come back and make another film after I make my American film. I plan to continue coming back to Jordan because of our beautiful cast and the wonderful experience we had working together with a lovely crew.

Funny enough, with all the positive excitement, there were still a few individual cynical Jordanians who said I'm arrogant to claim to have made the first Jordanian film in 50 years and went into the film ready to attack it no matter what. So I'll take a minute here and set the record straight.

Captain Abu Raed IS the first Jordanian feature film in 50 years. A few people raised questions asking "What about Oriental Tale"? made in 1991. Oriental Tale was directed by Najdat Anzour, a well-known Syrian TV director (key word: Syrian), not a Jordanian, and it was funded by a FRENCH organization (key word: French). So I'm not sure how that makes it a Jordanian film. Adnan Mdanat, possibly the most bitter Jordanian I've met, can argue all he wants. He was especially bitter that Captain Abu Raed made it into Sundance. How much more regressive shall one get?

Captain Abu Raed was funded by Jordanians and directed by a Jordanian. I don't care about being the first and all that, but the facts are the facts. You can't argue with the facts.

So this takes us back to 1957, which is when "Struggle In Jerash" was made. And we've always recognized the significance of that film. If anything, I hope the attention Captain Abu Raed has brought to that film can bring it to a cinema somewhere so we can actually finally see it. I would love that.

And that's what I have to say about the history of Jordanian cinema. The fact that we spent a year raising the money for it in Jordan, the fact that we brought together all the people interested in a Jordanian film industry and formed Paper & Pen Films, the fact that the film was made, and that it's gone on to win the Audience Award at Sundance and continues to tour at other important festivals and has already been picked up by Fortissimo Films for International sales is something we're all very proud of. Most important for me is the effect the film has had on people. I've seen teenagers and old people both laugh and cry. And for me, that's the biggest accomplishment as a filmmaker.

It's time for those cynics to open their eyes and look at the big picture. We've set a new standard with Captain Abu Raed. This film will benefit your potential to make films for the cinema, so you can choose to attack it or you can embrace the concept of a Jordanian film industry. I look forward to seeing who will make the next Jordanian feature film and how the movie turns out.

I met a lot of talented and enthusiastic young Jordanians like Samer Nimri who I believe will do something very special in due time. People have to work together to nurture this new industry. For me, I'm not affected by the cynics because I don't live in Amman and our film has done really well and will keep spreading. I don't look down, but the petty attacks in Jo Magazine are funny to me. However, I know the importance of support, and if those new Jordanian filmmakers don't get local support when they make their films, they will be affected. So, you cynics, stop whining and do something positive. Work together. Change the way you think. Turn your negative energy into something positive. I promise you that it will feel really good. And if it's that difficult, then go hug someone and you'll feel better. I promise. Turn your hate into love and something special will take place. That's all I have for you. Peace out.


Anonymous Tololy said...

It was a really well-made movie and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks for making it!

I think it's sad that there is a tendency here to bring anything good and promising down. It's very frustrating, but I applaud your speaking up about this through your blog.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Nas said...

i think like any movie, people will be divided in their opinion, of whether they liked it or not. the overwhelming majority from those i've met have been of the former.

that being said, despite those divisions, I think every Jordanian can set aside their opinions and acknowledge the film and its creators for what it has accomplished. whether they like it or not.

even if it was the first jordanian film to be made all of last year, it still set a pretty grand benchmark for the local industry, and i think it will open up more opportunities for other films to get funding. to say nothing of the ripple effect it has had on young and aspiring filmmakers in the country.

those elements are undeniable.

so don't let the cynics rain on your parade bro. you guys have done something beautiful here.

6:00 AM  
Blogger kinzi said...

Amin, I second and third the initial comments. I loved this film, as did ALL my friends.

I was saddened by JO's review. Maybe I should write them a letter expressing my frustration. To have four people with negative opinions (one of whom obviously just hates life in general)seemed to be contrarian for it's own sake.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

Thanks guys, believe me this stuff doesn't bother me. It's just unhealthy because it doesn't encourage young up and coming filmmakers. I've known Qais Elias, the editor of Jo since I was a kid. We played violin together and even made a couple of short action movies together. He wanted to make movies and ended up making a couple of bad TV commercials. That's where Jo Magazine's negativity comes from.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Hareega said...

Haven't seen the movie yet (i live in AZ) but just the fact that it was made, produced and directed by Jordanians makes me proud of this piece of work.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Ali said...

I think most of the negativity is generated by your insistence Amin on pushing over other Jordanian films. Not a sportsmanlike thing to do. best thing to do is to close that file as soon as you can. Just say you misjudged other films and it was an honest mistake that you regret and move on. but to keep defending an indefensible position that is not essential for your film's success but keeps pissing off lots of people I think is unnecessary. Even if you think you are right it won't hurt to acknowledge that many people are offended by your statement. Right or wrong, is it worth losing so much support and creating so much controversy. Captain Abu Raed is here. That is that. Being 4th or 100th or 1st will not diminish the fact you have made it. I bet all of this stalk about fairness and wasta is also generated by the negativity surrounding your claims. Not to sound like a broken record, but Amin the best thing to do is to regret that you have offended people with statements that were erroneous and that as soon as you had the full picture you backtracked. That I guarantee you will end much of the negativity if not all of it. In a away, I am glad people stood for those filmmakers who are not here to defend themselves. I am proud of these Jordanian's sense of fairness. When the time comes and someone tries to push you over, they will be around to defend you even when you are not around. So win them over Amin. They could be your best friends. Regrets never cost money. They earn you respect. But if you dig your heels in and this could drag on for a long time. is it worth it to keep this pissing contest alive?

6:06 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

We build and they try to destroy. That's what this is all about.

I don't deny that there were a couple of films made in Jordan before. But we all take pride that this is the first time a film of international standards is funded by Jordanians, directed by a Jordanian, and of course with an all Jordanian cast. Thus the term "first independent film from Jordan in 50 years."

I guess I shouldn't let myself get dragged into these bitter disputes because it's hopeless for those few. Our goal from the beginning has been to start a company so that we can fund Jordanian films after Captain Abu Raed and build a local film industry. No matter what you do, those cynics will attack you if you do something good because it's easier to be negative than to be positive. I'll end this at that.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Amin I just read your post-
All I have to say is that I have learned that with more success comes more jealousy. I have not personally seen the movie yet, but it does not matter really, because winning awards so far and the continuous presentation of the movie at numerous festivals is the metric you can use to stick it to the man. Again, whether I will like the movie or not is not really a big deal to me – Your success is so much more ever present compared to any other Jordanian movie maker I have known (if they exist). I am just looking at things objectively here.
Best of luck, and I hope to see your movie in Indiana, or Amman during the summer.
Ibrahim Baggili

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amin what your saying about these people is not cool at all, just because people dont like your movie doesnt make them negative or bad, its their opinions and they are free to have an opinion, some of the people in JO magazine piece are film people even before you were born, that gives their opinions some value, im sorry but i didnt like the movie, i didnt hate it either, it was OK, yet alot of people i know hated it, it doesnt make us negative or in need to hug someone... but at the same time we do realize the greatness of the accomplishment that was achieved here, a real Jordanian movie in theaters is a big deal, hopefully its a trend not a one time personal venture...
but if you think everyone will like the movies you make, your in for a surprise... oscar winning movies have fans and have haters, and just because

12:42 PM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

The blog post is not in reaction to those who don't like the film. It's virtually impossible for any film to please everyone. Too many people have too many different tastes.

My blog is in reaction to those who've gone on the attack slamming me personally and coming up with false accusations. Those are the regressive cynics that can't stand seeing someone succeed in what they do because they are filled with jealousy and negative energy.

I have, however, come to accept that the more successful you are, the more you will see people like that trying to slam you. And you know what? That's fine. It's human nature and I accept it. In fact, after seeing the Philip Glass documentary, I think I will go all the way and embrace it. Ooooh yeahh!!!! I'm learning the ways of the world and it's not so bad. Every ying needs a yang.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Little Ugly said...

I don't seem to understand the issue here. So if you want Amin to "confess to erroneous remarks" and "forgive and forget" why aren't you allowing the same? Supposing he made a mistake, why aren't we just saying it doesn't matter. As a Jordanian I'm more than proud of this movie. The cast was wonderful, the direction was beautiful and I couldn't find much if anything to criticize in it. Something that I would usually do.

The matter of the fact is, this movie a benchmark because of what it offers. It offers an insight to the Arab World that's different than what's offered today. It sheds light on issues that we all ignore as Jordanians. We ignore domestic violence and child abuse and blame it on the west. It's about time such a movie was made, and the fact that it was made so well, makes me so happy and so proud. All the respect for you Amin and the cast.

9:48 PM  

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