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Jordan Festival opens June 30
(Jordan Times)

AMMAN – The Jordan Festival will open on June 30 featuring a variety of Jordanian, Arab and international artists.
The month-long event, organised by the Friends of Jordan Festivals (FJF) in cooperation with organisers of the Beiteddine Festival, will take place at Jabal Al Qalaa (Citadel), with ticket prices starting at JD10, according to a FJF statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times yesterday.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is a tribute to “Kawkab El Sharq” Oum Koulsoum with the Egyptian diva Amal Maher and Salim Sahhab’s orchestra on opening night, according to the statement.
The festival will also feature a concert by prominent Iraqi singer Kathem Al Saher who will pay homage to the famous poet, Nizar Qabbani, and dedicate most of the songs to his poems, the statement.
In addition, Pink Martini, Il Divo, Rafael Amargo, the Syrian jazz band “Itar Shame'”, the Palestine Youth Orchestra, the Shaolin Monks, the Khoury Brothers, Makadi Nahhas, Amal Maher, Whirling Derwishes Dede, and Farida and the Iraqi Maqams will participate in the festival.
Jadal, Humam Ammari, Salam Hmoud, Aziz Maraqa and stand-up comedians will present the Jordanian Night, the statement added.
Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Maha Khatib yesterday said the government entered into partnership with the private sector to hold the festival, as it alone cannot run cultural festivals and allocate the required funds in light of the current conditions the Kingdom is going through, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
In a press conference on Monday, the minister highlighted the importance of collaborating with the Beiteddine Festival to exchange expertise.
“Jordan Festival 2010 is more than an artistic event for us, it is a true reflection of the rich cultural dimension that Jordan enjoys and which we are proud of,” the statement quoted FJF Chairman Issam Salfiti as saying.
“The twinning with the… renowned Beiteddine Festival is a step towards sharing experiences, building capacities, promoting local talents, cutting costs and networking with international artists and festivals, thus reaffirming Jordan as a cultural and tourist destination,” he added.
Founded in March 2010 by a group of businessmen and businesswomen, the FJF is a nonprofit organisation that seeks to promote Jordan as a cultural destination.

Jordan’s Talent, Potential on Display at Key Film Festival(Jordan Times) 

AMMAN – There is a strong Jordanian presence at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, with two films competing for the top prize filmed in the Kingdom.
“Fair Game” by American director Doug Liman, and “Route Irish” by veteran British director Ken Loach have made it to the final selection for the Palme d’Or, a source of pride for the dozens of local crew and cast which helped make the pictures.
The two directors have expressed their satisfaction in filming in the Kingdom.
“We found that we were very welcome in Jordan. The locations were good and the Jordanians who worked with us were skilful and dedicated,” Loach was quoted as saying in a Royal Film Commission (RFC) statement, expressing willingness to return to film in the country.
Doug Liman, who in addition to “Fair Game” has helmed “The Bourne Identity” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, stressed that he too enjoyed his time filming in the Kingdom.
“I have filmed all over the world, and all over the Middle East, and Jordan was an absolute delight. It is literally a filmmaker’s paradise,” Liman said, according to the RFC statement.
“Fair Game”, which tells the story of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, used the services of some 50 Jordanian cast and crew, according to Issam Husseini, “Fair Game” production manager.
“The local crew performed superbly from the runner up to the production manager, they were so excited to work on the job and to work with a director like Doug Liman,” he said.
An award at Cannes would be a tribute to the hard work by the local crew he said, underlining that after facilitating several international productions over the last few years, the Jordanian film industry can go toe-to-toe with other film hubs.
“We really have what it takes here locally. We are on par with international crews and we are just waiting for the next opportunity to prove ourselves,” Husseini said.
“Route Irish” a film about a British private security contractor in Iraq, utilised areas within and around Madaba as Baghdad and Baghdad airport road while employing 50 Jordanian film professionals and cast, according to Reem Bandak of International Traders, production coordinator of the film.
“We expect big things for Route Irish – if they get a distinction this will help the country, the crew and raise the profile of the locations in Jordan. We are all proud to be part of it,” she said.
The Kingdom has made “big strides” in its burgeoning film industry, she said, noting that her company has four projects lined up this year.
“We also need to be involved more in the co-production rather than being just a location, to take the next step as an industry,” she said.
In addition to qualified crew and cast, the Cannes contenders are giving audiences and industry leaders a closer look at the Kingdom’s wide variety of attractive locations, according to Sharif Majali, location manager for “Fair Game”.
During the blank days in the Kingdom, Liman shot in Amman and Queen Alia International Airport for scenes that took place in Jordan, transformed the Wadi Al Abyad phosphate mines into a uranium mine, a deserted checkpoint near the Dead Sea into an Iranian checkpoint. But it was the town of Sahab that Liman’s crew latched onto as a perfect fit for Baghdad.
“They just loved Sahab as a location, they loved the looks and it was perfect for a tough scene. They had 45 or 50 vehicles recreating Baghdad traffic near a checkpoint, people were honking, it was chaotic,” he said.
Although he was able to quickly recreate scenes from Iraq, Jordan and Iran, Majali was initially stumped when the producers asked him to find a location to stand in for Niger.
“When they said they were looking for Niger, I didn’t know where to begin. But after I saw photos of Niger online, I knew I had seen a place like that before,” he said.
Majali then took the crew to a location in Wadi Araba, whose arid temperatures and even its vegetation was similar to that of the African country.
“I would like more films to film in Jordan as Jordan. But then again, I think Jordan can stand in for many countries,” he said, underlining that the Kingdom is home to five types of desert terrain, dramatic landscapes from the north to the south.
“All this diversity is perfect to shoot anything. The only thing left is to build a studio, so what we don’t have we could build – that way Jordan would have it all,” he said.
Jordanian filmmaking talent is also on display at Cannes this year, with two Jordanian shorts are being screened at the festival Short Film Corner.
Dareen Sallam, whose film “Still Alive” is being screened along with Zaid Abu Hamdan’s “Baram and Hamza”, said her participation in Cannes has opened “a whole new world”.
Her film, which explores the themes of peace and war through the tale of a man inspired to rebuild his life by a young girl who has lost everything, has opened industry representatives’ eyes to Jordanian filmmakers’ potential.
“They are really surprised to find a filmmaker from Jordan – a lot of people don’t even know where Jordan is,” the 22-year-old director told The Jordan Times from Cannes.
“I am really glad that I came here. I’m learning a lot – there are many events and networking opportunities, it’s very fortunate for my career,” she said.
She underlined the support of the RFC in supporting her career, stressing that for young Jordanians interested in cinema “the possibilities are endless”.
During the film festival, which concludes on May 23, the RFC is hosting a pavilion to raise awareness on filming opportunities in the country, the services and scenery it has to offer. The Palme d’Or will be awarded next week.
For Sallam, no matter the end result in Cannes, this year’s festival represents another step forward for the Jordanian film industry.
“We have big talent in Jordan from locations to actors to crew. But there is something in Jordan that really makes the industry special,” she said.
“We have the passion.”

Amman hosts the legendry show Opera Aida 

On the 25th of June 2010 Amman hosts the legendry show Opera Aida for the international musician Verdi as a first appearance in an Arabic country after Egypt, this show coincides with Egypt celebrations over than 140 years of opening the Suez Canal and in writing Aida for the first time.
This huge historical event is organized by Al Rayah Events& in cooperation with Cairo Opera House and this event includes 250 artist from Egypt& 160 artist from Jordan and participates in this historical event which has been performed in 2008 at the sidelines of Beijing Olympics each of Cairo Opera ballet, Cairo Opera choir, Cairo Symphony orchestra, as well as the participation of management tem and technicians to supervise at all the operations to make the performance get out with the best image.
According to the organizers of the event the space& the capacity of the roman theater have been studied carefully to make the performance gets out in a magnificent image. From his side Dr. Abdalmunem Kamel the chair man of the Cairo Opera House said that Opera Aida has become one of the most important features distinctive artistic to Egypt after its adoption as an ambassador of the luxury Egyptian arts.
Dana Aweineh the marketing manager in Al Rayah Events said that the event will host a lot of VIPs from all over the world and fields, ministers, business men, political, culture and many others, we at Al Rayah is working hard in promoting for   the event.
From his side Faris Zeina the event coordinator said that we at Al Rayah proud that we organize this huge historical event in Jordan as the first Arabic country that hosts  this event and the goal from the event is to reflect the unique tourism place that Jordan takes between countries.