Jordanian Short Films Screening: A Brief Review

Yesterday we attended the screening of 5 short films at the Royal Film Commission. The films were done by a group of 14 apprentice movie makers, who participated in a 5-week workshop held by the Royal Film Commission in collaboration with the University of South California.

Before giving the brief review, I should note that I’m not an art critic, so this is for the most part my personal opinion as a viewer and observer.

The first film: One Day

This film shed light on a very important issue that is somehow becoming an unspoken taboo, or rather the elephant in the room that most of us are unwilling to acknowledge. Does love fade away after marriage, or is it us who have very high expectations?  I can’t say I fell in love with the film, maybe because I couldn’t relate, but my cousin said that if I was married, I would probably have liked it. After all, I trust that the writer and the creator of the movie must have had a message to deliver through the movie, and it did get across. On another subject, I think there was a serious problem with the language. Apparently, the script was written in English and then literally translated into Arabic, which sort of caused and identity crisis for the movie. It felt like watching a dubbed version of The Young and the Restless.

The second film: By the Sidewalk

This was the one I liked the most. It’s a movie that would make you laugh at the first and cry at the end. Ruba Haddad, who played the role of the homeless beggar did an awesome job and was extremely convincing. It was my favorite particularly because of the last scene, when her features softens, and all of a sudden she stops being the shrewd hobo cussing people out and calling them all kind of names. She turns out into a completely different person, and her dreamy eyes and faint smile say what you may take to mean: “I’m a human too”. The film had a strong influence on the audience, which was very obvious in the long round of applause that followed the last frame.

The third film: Yasmina

I wasn’t able to form an objective opinion on this one, since I was already familiar with the script, so I was technically waiting for the events to unfold. Honor crimes, a very important and sensitive subject, yet very complicated. Visually speaking, the film was really good, but I have more to say on the subject itself. As I said, the issue of honor crimes is very complicated. There is more to it than killing a female relative in the name of honor. It’s about the Jordanian law imposing minor punishments on those who commit such crimes, so I was hoping for at least one allusion to that point. In all fairness, the writer said she was trying to focus on Islam’s stance on this, but due to problems in sound editing some essential parts of the film were cut.

The fourth film

Well, what’s in a name! I’m really embarrassed to say I forgot the name of the film! Not that it wasn’t memorable enough, but I’m having memory issues. The film tackled a very important subject, parents and children alike complain about: teenage. What’s the best way to teach teenagers responsibility and independence at the same time? And when they make a mistake, which is bound to happen, what’s the best way to make them realize their mistake and learn from it? It reminded me of something my uncle once said, and I thought it was very true. He said: “None of us parents have an experience in raising kids, we are all experimenting.” The film tackled the subject in a funny way, which made it appeal more to the audience. The film is very realistic, and I’m pretty sire it was based on a true story. But again, the elephant in the room.

The fifth film: The Other Side of My neighborhood

I’m glad they left this one for the end; it was really something, a very professional experience on all levels. Great script, great visual effects, great editing, great music and the actors did an amazing job too. As for the audience, it was a real human experience; for the film brought to light the problem of those we all know they live amongst us, but hardly take notice of. Proper notice that is. If I talked more about it, I would probably ruin it for those who want to watch it, so I’ll just stop here.

I just want to note at the end that those guys did an awesome job and proved a high level of talent, especially given their young age and little experience. This gives hope for change in the Jordanian film industry scene, which is hoped to reflect on the society as a whole.

Originally Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2007 on

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