Directors Without Borders

Film

By Caroline Lagnado

Published January 19, 2007, issue of January 19, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Jordan’s King Abdullah II recently announced that his country will partner with the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television to create a new film school. The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts will be aimed specifically toward youth of Middle Eastern background and based in the city of Aqaba — significant for its proximity to the various nations the school wishes to serve, including Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The graduate school, which will offer a three-year Master of Fine Arts degree, will start construction on its state-of-the-art facilities this year and will begin admitting students in 2008. The campus will feature digital screening rooms, animation labs and sound stages with green-screen and motion-capture abilities, in addition to digital and print library resources.

The institute’s courses will be taught in English, in an attempt to bridge cultural differences between the various Arab speakers and Israeli students while allowing English-speaking specialists to come and teach. The king conferred on the project with director Steven Spielberg, who, in a statement, hailed “the importance and significance of such a venture for the people and the future of the region.”

Inviting Israeli students to attend the school has sparked some heated debate, particularly among Arab bloggers, who are skeptical about the institute’s chances for success. Its supporters include prominent Israeli filmmaker Dan Katzir, who participated in the school’s inaugural ceremony in New York, alongside Samer Mouasher, commissioner of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan. The school’s mission is close to Katzir’s heart: His 1994 hit “Out for Love… Be Back Shortly” dealt with the Jordanian-Israeli peace accords.

According to Katzir, the long hours and hard work required to serve on one another’s student film crews will help unify the students as they navigate through potential ideological differences. “Once you bond with your peers, it’s very hard to make a movie against them,” he said in an interview with the Forward. “Basically you’re creating something positive together; you’re creating life.”

Katzir also spoke glowingly of the Jordanian king, calling him “a visionary” for being able to see the need for such an institution in the Middle East. The filmmaker feels that the school will have the ability to cross cultural boundaries, since “film affects our hearts rather than our brains.”

Caroline Lagnado is a writer in New York.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.